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Eleven health professional schools have been chosen by the National Institutes of Health Pain Consortium to be designated Centers of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPE). These centers will enhance and improve how health professionals are taught about pain and its treatment.

The CoEPEs will be hubs for developing, evaluating and distributing pain management curriculum resources for dental, nursing and pharmacy schools. Approaches to treating pain are not taught extensively in many health professional schools. The curricula developed by the CoEPEs will include the assessment, diagnosis, and safe treatment of many pain conditions, while minimizing the abuse of opioid pain relievers.

“Virtually all health professionals are called upon to help patients suffering from pain,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, said in a news release. “These new centers will translate current research findings about pain management to fill what have been recognized as gaps in curricula so clinicians in all fields can work with their patients to make better and safer choices about pain treatment.”

The new Centers of Excellence in Pain Education are the University of Washington, Seattle; the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia; Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville; the University of Rochester, New York; the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston; the University of Alabama at Birmingham; the Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine, Philadelphia; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and the University of Pittsburgh.

“While opioid pain medications have improved the quality of life for millions who suffer from pain, they can also produce harmful consequences, including addiction,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, MD. “These new CoEPEs can help prevent negative outcomes by designing curricula that promote appropriate screening and management of chronic pain patients, along with education about the risks of prescription drug abuse.”

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