July 2019 Newsletter
From our Executive Director, Maria Hudspith
Two new reports on the state of chronic pain in Canada

What’s the current state of pain care, education and research in Canada? Two new reports shed light on the significant problem of unrecognized and untreated pain.

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) , in partnership with the Mindset Social Innovation Foundation and Pain BC, looked at the issue of chronic pain in Canada. In a national poll, we sought to understand the experience of Canadians living with pain and to gain insight into the perceptions of the Canadian public on pain-related issues. What jumped off the page? The broad impacts of pain, Canadians’ experiences with cannabis and opioids, and overwhelming support for policy change: 

  • From sleep to mental health to day-to-day functioning, 1 in 5 Canadians shared that pain is limiting their quality of life and ability to function.
  • The pendulum swing around opioid prescribing is impacting Canadians in pain - 37% of those surveyed said that they can no longer access pain medications when needed. 
  • Financial barriers are a big impediment to Canadians with pain having better quality of life - 64% said if they could afford the treatments they need, they would be living with less pain and better quality of life today. 
  • Cannabis was reported as being effective by 74% of those who tried it for pain relief; this was the highest number of all treatments surveyed.
  • Canadians are near-unanimous in their support for more access to publicly funded pain treatments.

The ARI report highlights the need for federal and provincial policy change to improve access to care in Canada. To learn more, read the whole report .

Pain BC is grateful to the Mindset Foundation and the Angus Reid Institute for their generous support of this project.

The ARI report echoes what is outlined in the first report of the Canadian Pain Task Force (CPTF). The CPTF was launched in March by the federal government and is mandated to examine the current state of pain in Canada, to outline an improved approach to treatment, education and research, and to support uptake of this approach across the country. The main messages in the CPTF’s report are that:

  • There is a global consensus that chronic pain is a significant chronic disease in its own right and as such, needs concerted attention. This is not reflected in the current state in Canada.
  • Care for chronic pain is largely dependent on where people live and what type of insurance coverage they have.
  • People living with chronic pain need better access to a range of treatment services beyond medication, including psychological support, physical therapies, integrated health care services, and others.
  • There is a clear deficit in education of health professionals in the causes, types, underlying mechanisms, and effects of pain, as well as how best to treat it.
  • Efforts to reduce the number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Canada have had significant consequences on chronic pain patients, including increased stigma and reduced access to treatment. For some patients, it has also resulted in inappropriate prescribing practices such as abrupt stoppage of opioids or tapering without consideration of the risks associated with withdrawal or the medical needs of patients.
  • Data and evidence need to be improved to make more informed decisions on individual treatment, health system change, and policy.

While neither report yields big surprises to people living with pain, they serve as a wake-up call for the general public and for federal and provincial policy makers. Through the efforts of Pain BC, our allies and supporters, and the work of the CPTF, I’m hopeful that increasing awareness will result in concrete change.
Our supports for people with pain
Access our free pain self-management resources, including articles, assessment tools, and an anonymous discussion forum.
Connect with a trained volunteer to talk about your pain, get help with finding a new physician, find information on community resources, and much more.
Starting fall 2019, join an in-person group and build a community of support while learning about pain, pain management and coping strategies.
Receive one-on-one phone support and mentorship from a coach who will help you learn about self-management, regaining function and improving your well-being.
Opportunity to participate: UBC Interprofessional Health Mentors Program

The UBC Interprofessional Health Mentors Program is looking for people who live with chronic illness, or caregivers, who are comfortable sharing their lived experiences and medical expertise as Volunteer Health Mentors. Volunteer Health Mentors will help new UBC health care students learn about patient-centred care and how health care providers can better support people living with chronic illness. The program starts in September 2019 and runs until May 2020, with approximately 19 total hours of commitment.
Doctors of BC: Doctors Making a Difference

Doctors of BC host a blog topic called "Doctors Making a Difference" to showcase the exemplary work being done by BC physicians to support patients at various points of care in the health care system. In their most recent blog, they feature Dr. Judy Dercksen, a family physician who treats patients living with chronic pain in her community in northern BC. Here's a snippet from the post:

"Dr. Judy Dercksen is the first to admit that trauma has made her the doctor she is today. As a family physician, she knows many physical symptoms can be manifestations or by-products of psychological damage. As she treats, she also explores all dimensions of her patients. She also personifies the very definition of a ‘do it yourselfer’, who knows how to make the most of bad situations, which is why she is so highly regarded by her patients and her northern BC community of Quesnel.

In South Africa, “I was exposed to terrible travesties”

Originally from South Africa, at one point, Dr. Dercksen managed doctors and nurses in 50 clinics across the country. “I actually studied during the early '80s at the height of apartheid’s civil unrest. As a medical student, I was exposed to terrible travesties. It was only later, I recognized that in addition to my childhood trauma, I was quite traumatized by these experiences.” In 2002, Dr. Derckson and her husband moved to Quesnel to escape the legacy of apartheid and its residual effects. 

In Canada, Dr. Dercksen thrived because “there is a health care system for everyone and everyone who came through the door got the help they needed.” This freedom allowed Dr. Derckson to concentrate more on working with people who don’t know how to get to the door – how to access the help.
Tool to search for clinical trials in BC
Clinical Trials Ontario works closely with the clinical trials community to build a stronger and more efficient environment for clinical trials while prioritizing ethical standards and patient safety. While they are Ontario-based, their "clinical trials finder" tool includes clinical trials from BC (among all other provinces) and provides an option to search for trials based on location and condition.

What are clinical trials? Clinical trials are a type of research that engage people of interest to test health-related “interventions” to see how they work. Clinical trials often answer questions like: Is the intervention safe? Does the intervention improve or cure disease, or help people live longer with disease than other treatments? Does the intervention help people feel better? You can learn more about clinical trials here .
Feedback opportunity: Medication for psoriasis
Accepting feedback until July 31, 2019

The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health (CADTH) is currently investigating the use of Ilumya (tildrakizumab) for psoriasis, a painful chronic illness targeting the body's skin cells. They are accepting patient feedback as part of their review until July 31, 2019.
Opportunity to participate: UBC interview study on clinical trials for prescription drugs

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is looking to interview people in pain who have participated in a clinical trial for prescription drugs.

Clinical trials are an important part of developing new drugs and providing the best medical care. However, about 4 in every 10 clinical trials are either not published or only published after a long delay. When clinical trials are not published, their results are not available to the wider scientific community, making it more for researchers, doctors and others to know which drugs are safe and effective.

For detailed information about this study and how to participate, please click on the link below.
Opportunity to participate: Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Study

UBC researchers are looking for participants to join their study to test the use of 2 different creams for relieving diabetic nerve pain. Participants will receive each cream for 3 months, with their total participation lasting 6 months.
Upcoming Pain BC and partner workshops, webinars and courses
Pain BC workshop: Chronic Pain Management for Registered Massage Therapists
This workshop provides RMTs with an opportunity to learn how modifications of traditional massage therapy practices can increase success and improve outcomes for people in pain.

Sep 29, 2019 in Kelowna:   Register now
Nov 3, 2019 in Vancouver Register now
Nov 24, 2019 in Victoria:   Register now
Pain BC workshop: Chronic Pain Management for Chiropractors
This workshop is for chiropractors or students of chiropractic interested in developing or enhancing their clinical skills in the assessment and treatment of people living with complex and chronic pain.

Sep 28-29, 2019 in Vancouver Register now
Gentle Movement and Relaxation Course
This free and online course will equip physiotherapists and other therapeutic movement professionals with practical knowledge and teaching resources to lead their own movement and relaxation programs for people living with chronic pain.

The Gentle Movement and Relaxation Course is currently available to BC health care providers only.

BC ECHO for Chronic Pain
This new and free virtual learning community brings together specialists and community health care providers from around the province to learn together from complex pain cases.

We encourage all health care professionals to apply to join Cycle 2, which will begin in September 2019.

Pain Foundations
This online course is designed to address the challenges faced by health care providers of all disciplines when assessing and treating people living with chronic pain. The course is free for health care providers in BC; a pricing structure for other geographical locations is coming soon.

WWDPI webinar: Improving work outcomes in patients with musculoskeletal pain
This webinar will provide a discussion of the impact of musculoskeletal pain on the working-age population, while providing an overview of findings from a study comparing a brief, early intervention to support people working with pain through best current care practices.

July 30, 2019 at 8:30am PST: Register now
In the news
CPSA letter: Important Information Regarding Opioid Prescribing
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta recently issued a letter to clarify best practices for prescribing opioids to people living with pain in their province.
IKEA expands its ergonomic product line to include products for people with disabilities
IKEA  recently announced they will be expanding their ergonomic product line to include new products for people living with disabilities and/or illnesses.
Caring for the caregiver: Raising children with a disability or chronic disease
This article touches on the experiences of a few Canadian caregivers who are supporting children living with chronic illness or disability, while highlighting the need for more caregiver supports.
For some with chronic pain, 'life isn't worth living'
This article in the Vancouver Sun summarizes key findings from the national polling report recently released by the Angus Reid Institute, while highlighting the lived experience of a person in pain.
When staying composed compromises your health
This article examines how saying "i'm fine" can be harmful to a person's physical and mental health when living with persistent pain.
Australia announces national pain strategy
Painaustralia, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health, recently developed and announced a National Strategic Plan for Pain Management.
Pain BC programs and initiatives are funded, in whole or in part, by the Government of British Columbia.
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