Over 100 million Americans suffer with chronic pain. This fact serves as a call to action, a call that requires multilevel intervention, multi-stakeholder engagement, and attention from all sectors of health care, health policy, and public health. Grasping the extent of chronic pain and what sectors of our population are affected is only the beginning of a solution. Understanding the impact chronic pain has on patients’ lives is an essential feature needed to create a nationally responsive research approach.
Patients, caregivers, and family members have identified communication challenges as their common experience, citing the sense of being on one’s own, not being heard, and sometimes feeling all alone on the journey to cope with chronic pain. Patients feel they are not listened to and often are talked “at” instead of “with” during their clinical encounters.
Providers and patients unanimously agree that effective communication and trust are mutually reinforcing and essential to the patient-centered care required for individuals living with chronic pain. Further, education targeted at supporting patient self-management is a key part of the answer to chronic pain management. Patients want to know that their doctors and clinical team know their needs and make recommendations, provide guidance, and prescribe medication when necessary based on a careful risk–benefit assessment. However, patients also believe that this process requires their input, too.
This project seeks to determine if provider-oriented, patient-centered active listening education and training can improve patient–provider communication and thereby improve outcomes.