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PainApp was developed by people with chronic pain, health care providers who treat patients with chronic pain, and research scientists who study ways to improve treatments for chronic pain. Many members of our team are based in Maine, but our team includes people from across the U.S. and Canada.

Why we developed PainApp:

Chronic pain affects over 100 million Americans. You are not alone.

Pain can only be understood through the patients’ perspectives by considering their perceptions, values, beliefs, social context, illness behaviors, and personal experiences. Yet pain management is far from being patient-centered. Patients with chronic pain are often stymied by the complexity of the health choices they face. Patients’ preferences for pain treatments often differ from those of health care providers (HCPs).

For clinicians, managing chronic pain is typically time consuming, costly, and often ineffective. Physicians routinely neglect to assess patient goals and values; patient preferences rarely guide treatment plans. Primary care providers (PCPs) often consider pain management as being “frustrating” and “overwhelming.”

Pain can interfere with patients’ capacity for decision-making, managing other chronic diseases and communicating with HCPs.

Good communication between patients and their providers is critically important in pain management and is even more important than an actual decrease in pain when predicting patient satisfaction.

Opioids became the mainstay of chronic pain treatment in recent decades. When properly used, opioid therapy can improve patients’ quality of life, decrease healthcare costs, and promote work productivity. However, misuse and abuse of prescription opioids have reached epidemic proportions.

Factors that drove the overuse of opioids were misinformation about their benefits and harms, inadequate training of HCPs in pain management, too little clinic time spent with patients with complex issues, and too few multidisciplinary treatment programs. Yet pain remains under-treated among those most in need. Today’s prescription drug crisis reflects a broad failure in managing pain.

As the U.S. healthcare system transitions from a biologic, opioid-prescribing focus to a more comprehensive biopsychosocial and patient-engaged approach for managing chronic pain, new tools are needed to facilitate communication about the patient’s care plan.

This project was funded through an independent grant from Pfizer through Shared Decision Making Resources. The funder had no involvement in designing or implementing the tool.