Addressing limited pain management education for health practitioners


Pain is recognised as one of the leading causes of disability and disease globally, with the number of people living with pain increasing each year (Vos et al 2017).

Despite the need for skilled health practitioners to address the growing burden of pain, there is generally limited pain management content in health practitioner education at all levels worldwide.

In April 2020, the Faculty of Pain Medicine, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists won a federal Department of Health grant to develop a multidisciplinary pain management education strategy for a broad range of Australian health practitioners.

The project supports goal three of the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management, which aims to ensure that ‘health practitioners are well-informed and skilled on best practice evidence-based care and are supported to deliver this care’ (Australian Government Department of Health 2019, p16).

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)  highlighted the importance of health practitioners receiving adequate pain education at all levels of learning with its 2018 Global Year for Excellence in Pain Education (Watt-Watson 2018).

The education strategy will be underpinned by the principles promoted by the IASP on an international level, including interprofessional education, multidisciplinary pain management, and evidence-based care.

It will be centred around the needs of health practitioners as learners and the needs of people accessing pain care, as well as promote a sociopsychobiomedical approach to pain management.

The completed strategy will define a nationally consistent and comprehensive set of  principles and goals to inform the development and implementation of pain management content within health practitioner education programs, including physiotherapy, at all levels.

To ensure the final strategy is well informed by key stakeholder input and underpinned by a multidisciplinary perspective, the project team will be implementing a range of stakeholder workshops around the country this year, along with wider stakeholder consultation.

As the peak body representing Australian physiotherapists and their patients, the Australian Physiotherapy Association has been invited to nominate stakeholders to contribute to strategy development.

>> Email for references. Direct any queries or comments regarding the project to the Project Officer, Katy Elliott, at


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