Designing and Implementing Emergency Department Pain Management Curriculum: A Delphi Approach

Karolina Paziana, Edmund Timpano, Andrew Stolbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Our primary objective was to use the Delphi method (DM) to choose learning objectives for an Internet-based pain management teaching module for emergency care providers. The DM is a structured communication technique that uses systematic, interactive data gathering to reach a consensus among a panel of experts. Methods: We extracted preliminary educational objectives from nationwide pain fellowship training programs. After redundant objectives and those relating to procedures outside the scope of emergency medicine (EM) were removed, 23 preliminary objectives remained. We enlisted experts in EM, medical toxicology, anesthesia, pain, psychiatry, and medical education to evaluate the objectives in repeated rounds. Based on the time we had designated for teaching (3 hours) and our estimate of 15 to 20 minutes for each learning objective, we aimed for nine to 12 final learning objectives. The expert panel rated the 23 preliminary objectives with a 5-point Likert scale. Experts were blinded to each other's answers. When 80% of experts agreed with proposed objectives, objectives were considered “accepted” and retained. When 80% of experts disagreed with proposed objectives, the objectives were considered “rejected” and discarded. The remaining objectives were considered in subsequent rounds. In the first round, one objective was rejected and four were accepted. In the second round, four objectives were rejected and five were accepted. Having reached nine objectives the panel unanimously agreed that the nine objectives were sufficient to be used as a foundation for teaching modules. Results: Using the DM, our expert panel identified nine educational objectives that were used as the foundation for an educational module. Of the nine objectives, three were categorized as “medical knowledge,” two as “pharmacologic knowledge,” two as “patient communication,” and two as “systems-based practice.” The learning objectives are as follows: recognize common barriers to treating pain; understand alternative interventional therapies used to treat different kinds of pain their implications, benefits, and risks; identify common component symptoms that may exacerbate chronic pain (i.e., depression, anxiety, delirium, cachexia, dyspnea); study the major drug groups used to treat different kinds of pain; recognize the risks of polypharmacy; set realistic expectations with patients early in their presentation to the emergency department (ED); educate patients as the risks of different classes of pain medications, including risk of addiction; understand the legal and regulatory issues that govern pain management in the ED; and understand in-hospital resources available for patient follow up and referral to pain clinics. Conclusions: We successfully used the DM to develop educational objectives for an e-learning module. Further work should evaluate educational outcomes of the teaching module.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalAEM Education and Training
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Education
  • Emergency


Dive into the research topics of 'Designing and Implementing Emergency Department Pain Management Curriculum: A Delphi Approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this