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Module 2: Relieving Pain and Other Symptoms

Chronic Pain, Adolescents, and Pain Assessment


 Facilitator's Guide Download PDF

This seminar emphasizes key principles of pain assessment as they apply to adolescents with chronic or recurrent pain resulting from a long-term, potentially life-threatening condition. The case-study based seminar is designed to elicit discussion about the multiple dimensions of pain, the challenges of pain assessment, and the need for caregivers to recognize and overcome biases due to such variables as race, class and ethnicity. A sickle-cell patient was explicitly chosen for the case study because these patients are often not approached from a palliative care perspective, despite the frequency of pain crises, the chronic and life-threatening nature of their condition, and the risk of early death. The issues raised and the principles illustrated are relevant to many different painful conditions.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Recognize that the patient is the foremost expert on his or her own pain.
  • Explain the importance of assessing the physiological, cognitive, and emotional components of a patient's pain perception.
  • Describe the key information that should be obtained in a pain history and how that information should be used.
  • Appreciate how issues of race, class and ethnicity can shape perceptions and assumptions about patients in regard to their experience and reporting of pain.

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