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Research
Pain Management Content in Curricula of U.S. Schools of Pharmacy
Rubina M. Singh, PharmD; Susan L. Wyant, PharmD
J Am Pharm Assoc (2003) 2003;43:34-40. doi:10.1331/10865800360467024

Abstract

Objectives  To identify individuals in schools of pharmacy in the United States who are responsible for covering the topic of pain management in courses for doctor of pharmacy students and to describe how and at what depth pain management is covered in pharmacy school curricula.

Design  One-time qualitative assessment.

Setting  Schools of pharmacy in the United States.

Participants  Twenty-eight faculty members with the rank of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor who had been employed in their current positions for at least 2 years and who were directly involved in preparing and teaching didactic courses that address pain management.

Intervention  In-depth telephone interviews.

Main Outcome Measures  Qualitative responses to open-ended interview questions.

Results  While pain management was included in the curricula of all 28 schools of pharmacy, it was generally covered in a fragmented way, usually as part of presentations on diseases with pain as a prominent feature (e.g., cancer pain addressed during oncology lectures) or as part of discussions of analgesics. Only two schools offered stand-alone courses in pain management, and both of those courses were electives that were taken by an average of 15 students per year. Three-fourths of respondents believed that pain was being given too little emphasis in their schools' curricula. Palliative care and the use of medications in the treatment of cancer pain was not presented in a standardized manner, and respondents were unsure of how the subject was covered in pharmacy law classes. Instruction about the diagnosis of pain, patient assessment, and physical examination was reported as “minimal” by most respondents. Respondents perceived a need for a single, complete reference and teaching resource that would address the entire spectrum of pain management as it applies to pharmacy.

Conclusion  The topic of pain management is poorly presented and inadequately developed in the curricula of many U.S. schools of pharmacy.

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