Interprofessional pain education—with, from, and about competent, collaborative practice teams to transform pain care

Debra B. Gordon, Judy Watt-Watson, Beth B. Hogans

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The delivery of effective pain management can be complex, requiring collaborative, team approaches that exceed the expertise of any one profession. Interprofessional collaboration is increasingly recognized as a core skill for all clinicians and is beginning to be required by some accrediting bodies for medical, nursing, pharmacy, physician assistant, and social work programs. However, IP collaborative practice is not yet an integral part of all health professions education programs. Recommendations of the WHO 34 and other leading organizations recognize IP collaborative practice and education as a central component of transformative improvements in health care. Based on work in a number of global settings, recommendations for educational change to incorporate IP collaboration into practice are available and undergoing further development. Creating IPE learning opportunities is important. The intent of IPE is to produce a collaborative practice-ready workforce to improve the quality of health care. Students should be introduced to IPE early and have developmentally appropriate opportunities throughout a curriculum program. Students can change agents in the real world to continuously improve the way health professionals work together, mentor students and improve the quality of pain care. The quality and rigor of IPE research is inadequate, and research needs to move beyond feasibility and attitudes toward long-term improvements in clinical care. When focused on pain, IPE is likely to provide substantive benefits in the real-world practice setting, but barriers to IPE adoption, including slow adoption of pain-focused competencies and cultural habits, limit uptake. When able to overcome these obstacles, IPE has the capacity to harmonize learning experiences and promote patient-centered socialization of health profession trainees at all levels. Importantly, communicating and assessing innovation in IPE relies on understanding the conceptual education framework built on key elements of competencies (learning outcomes), curriculum (learning plans), and content (learning objectives). Although more work is needed to identify the most effective approaches, and even fundamentally to define meaningful approaches to outcomes assessment, models of education such as IP workshop training and online education exist with positive impact. We leave readers with a brief table of actions they can take to advance and transform health professions’ education (Table 4).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere663
JournalPain Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Collaborative practice
  • Interprofessional education
  • Pain competency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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