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


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.

Sign In
APhA Members 
Welcome to JAPhA.org! Please log in below using your APhA username and password. Update your APhA profile.
Not a Subscriber
New to JAPhA? Become an APhA member to receive a full subscription to both the print and online editions.


Register for a FREE limited account to benefit from personalization features such as alerts.


Landis NT New pain standards offer key role for pharmacy. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2001;58:358–60.[PubMed]
Ernst ME, Doucette WR, Dedhiya SD, et al. Use of point-of-service health status assessments by community pharmacists to identify and resolve drug-related problems in patients with musculoskeletal disorders. Pharmacotherapy. 2001;21:988–97.[PubMed][CrossRef]
Lothian ST, Fotis MA, von Gunten CF, et al. Cancer pain management through a pharmacist-based analgesic dosing service. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 1999;56:1119–25.[PubMed]
Malone DC, Carter BL, Billups SJ, et al. Can clinical pharmacists affect SF-36 scores in veterans at high risk for medication-related problems? Med Care. 2001;39:113–22.[PubMed][CrossRef]
Ratka A. The role of a pharmacist in ambulatory cancer pain management. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2002;1911–6.
Lipman AG, Berry JI Pharmaceutical care of terminally ill patients. J Pharm Care Pain Symp Contr. 1995;3:31–56.[CrossRef]
Krick SE, Lindley CM, Bennett M. Pharmacy-perceived barriers to cancer pain control: results of the North Carolina Cancer Pain Initiative Pharmacist Survey. Ann Pharmacother. 1994;28:857–62.[PubMed]
Joranson DE, Gilson AM Pharmacists' knowledge of and attitudes toward opioid pain medications in relation to federal and state policies. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2001;41:213–20.
 Accreditation Standards and Guidelines for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree Adopted June 14, 1997. Chicago, III:  American Council on Pharmaceutical Education;  1997. Available at: www.acpe-accredit.org/Docs/ProfProg/content_2000Standards.htm. Accessed November 13,  2002.
Wenzel RG, Neidich MR Headache education in colleges of pharmacy. Ann Pharmacother. 2002;36:612–6.[PubMed][CrossRef]
Morrison RS, Wallenstein S, Natale DK, et al. “We don't carry that”—failure of pharmacies in predominantly nonwhite neighborhoods to stock opioid analgesics. N Engl J Med. 2000;342:1023–6.[PubMed][CrossRef]
McCaffery M, Pasero C. Pain: Clinical Manual.2nd ed.  Philadelphia, Pa:  Mosby;  1999.
DiPiro JT, Talbert RL, Yee GC,et al., eds.  Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach.5th ed.  New York, NY:  McGraw-Hill;  2002.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of the editorial staff.
* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

JAPhA Articles
Topic Collections
PubMed Articles
Evaluation and management of spinal epidural abscess. J Hosp Med Published online Nov 5, 2015;
  • Print
  • PDF Download
  • Email
  • Share
  • Get Citation
  • Submit Comment
  • Article Alerts
    Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
    You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

    Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

  • Letters To Editor
  • Reprints