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SIP Thematic Network - Pain Education of Healthcare Professional, Patients and Society

Pain medicine is not taught as a dedicated unit in most European medical schools and there is a lack of awareness of the societal impact of pain in the broader community.

  1. Formal academic pain education

Pain education within the medical curricula remains limited. In a study published in 2015[1], it found that even if pain was taught, it was not within a specific pain module.

At EU level, the Joint Action on Health Workforce Planning and Forecasting (EU JAHWF)[2] launched a three-year project to map existing activities and to create a list of good practice examples. In 2016, it published a handbook on “health workforce planning methodologies that describes and analyses the planning practices developed in selected EU countries”[3]. The outcome of the Joint Action was the establishment of the health workforce planning and forecasting expert network, which aims to create a platform for exchanging knowledge and best practice. It also aims to address challenges across the EU.

  1. Awareness raising and wider stakeholder education

Alongside formal academic education, education of other stakeholders is of equal importance. Notable stakeholders include policymakers, patients, healthcare management, and employers/employment organisations and unions. Such education should, furthermore, be tailored to the specific audiences, their level of health and pain literacy, and take into account their respective cultural and social backgrounds.

There has been limited EU- or Member State-led activity in relation to specific pain-focused awareness raising activities. Most awareness raising activities have been conducted by civil society, aimed at the general public as well as to policymakers.

At EU level, the European Commission funded the EMPATHiE (Empowering patients in the management of chronic diseases)[4] study in 2014, which sought to contribute to EU knowledge and facilitate the development of patient-centred healthcare policies, whilst also contributing to the then-reflection process on chronic disease management. The study looked at four different working packages: 1. Identification of best practice models for patient empowerment, 2. Analysis of these models and identification of advantages and barriers to empowering patients, 3. Develop a methodology to validate the transferability of good practice, and 4. Develop scenarios for future EU collaboration regarding patient empowerment.

On the other hand, a number of civil society-led awareness raising platforms exist. Those aimed at policymakers include the SIP Platform Annual Symposium and the European Parliament Brain, Mind, and Pain (BMP) Interest Group[5]. Activities aimed at the wider general public include International Pain Awareness Month[6] and the Pain Toolkit[7].


SIP Recommendation for Policy Action

Prioritise pain education for health care professionals, patients, policymakers, and the general public

SIP calls on the European Commission and Member States to facilitate the sharing of best practice and identification of gaps.

SIP also calls on the European Commission and Member States to propose recommendations to educate healthcare professionals, patients, policymakers and the general public on the issue of pain and its impact across Europe.


Please see the SIP Framing Paper and Call to Action for further information.









Read more about Pain Education on this website:

- SIP 2019: Joint Statement implementation - Pain education

- Interview with Dr. Emma Briggs SIP@EFIC

- Interview with Dr. Andreas Kopf SIP@EFIC

- Video Statement: Francoise Thomas - Pain Education

- Joint Declaration of SIP Portugal 2019: Employment and Education

- SIP 2017, Working Group 1: Andreas Kopf - Education: Do we still need it?

- National initiatives United Kingdom: Better education on pain management - press release

- SIP 2012, Working Group 4: Kris Vissers - Education and research Programmes on pain management in EU

- SIP 2012, Working Group 4: Begoña García Cepeda - Education in pain

- SIP 2012, Working Group 4: Manuela Monleón / Marta Pisano - Developing pain education for nurses by nurses

- SIP 2011, Workshop 2: Jan Dobrogowski - Can education in pain improve the treatment of pain?

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