Aspiring pain practitioners in India: Assessing challenges and building opportunities

Sushma Bhatnagar, Anuradha Patel, Srinivasa Naga Raja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Pain medicine is a developing specialty, aimed at relieving pain and suffering, enhancing function, and improving the quality of life of patients. Pain is often ignored, under-reported and mismanaged by health-care providers. Aspiring pain physicians in India face many challenges and barriers in advancing their specialty. Objectives: The objective of this study is to determine the challenges in establishing a pain practice in India and to discuss the opportunities and strategies to overcome these barriers. Subjects and Methods: Face-to-face interactive sessions were held with 60 aspiring pain physicians of India who were chosen as registrants to an International Association for the Study of Pain-Indian Society for Study of Pain multidisciplinary evidence-based pain management program conducted at Delhi and Mumbai. The available opportunities, practical issues and the hurdles in becoming a pain specialist were analyzed and summarized in this commentary. Results: The major barriers identified were: (1) Inadequate knowledge and absence of structured, educational and training courses, (2) bureaucratic hurdles, and (3) concerns of opioid misuse and addiction. The opportunities for personal growth and that of the specialty that could be utilized include the creation of a pain resource team, increasing community awareness, changing attitudes of other physicians toward pain specialty, and research and evidence building of the effectiveness of pain management strategies. Conclusion: India needs a structured teaching and training program in the area of pain medicine that is affiliated by the Medical Council of India or other reputed boards of medical education and certification. There is an urgent need to include pain management in the undergraduate and postgraduate medical curriculum. Enhancing community level awareness by public health education campaigns, developing networks of pain physicians, and appropriate marketing of the specialty is needed to make pain medicine recognized and utilized as a valuable specialty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-97
Number of pages5
JournalIndian Journal of Palliative Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Barriers
  • challenges
  • opportunities
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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