ASCO Develops Professional Resources for Pain Management

Feb 26, 2018

When it comes to helping patients with cancer manage pain, education and communication are critical. ASCO University® has developed two resources for providers to help facilitate educated clinical decision-making skills for pain management and feedback from patients in the forms of the Pain Management Program and the Pain Management Safety Survey.

ASCO University’s Pain Management Program

Updated in February 2018, the Pain Management Program is designed to:

  • Apply personalized patient assessment and follow-up for multidimensional symptoms
  • Define the principles of opioid initiation and titration, including recognizing indications and process of rotation
  • Utilize general management strategies of opioid-related adverse effects and ensure safety, tolerance, and compliance with analgesic regimens
  • Implement multimodal, multidisciplinary approaches and universal precautions when caring for all patients with cancer experiencing pain, including patients with substance use disorder

The program explores case scenarios using an interactive question format to select a course of action in managing the patient’s pain. The purpose is to provide a safe opportunity where the learner can make clinical decisions without real-world consequences. After every decision the learner makes, they will receive feedback on whether the choice was clinically optimal, clinically suitable, or incorrect. To access the program, visit

ASCO’s Pain Management Safety Survey

ASCO offers the Pain Management Safety Survey, an activity designed to identify gaps in pain management communication. Available free of charge to ASCO members, providers download a 26-question survey and administer it to 25 patients, who answer anonymously. Questions, which are directly related to pain management, follow a yes/no format and fall into three sections:

  • Aspects the provider explained to the patient
  • Questions the provider asked the patient
  • Whether the patient felt the communication was effective

After collecting responses, providers then determine any areas in which they need to improve communication. Once this improvement plan has had adequate time to be implemented, providers administer an identical survey to a different cohort of 25 patients. Comparing responses before and after implemented changes, providers then assess improvements as well as areas that still need work.

“The survey taught us that patients need to be told directly by their clinical team that they’re supposed to keep pain medications in safe spots—possibly even lock boxes if that is appropriate for the home situation,” said Eric Roeland, MD, of the University of California, San Diego, who participated in the Pain Management Safety Survey’s pilot alongside his palliative care team.

For both the Pain Management Program and the Pain Management Survey, participating providers can obtain continuing medical education certificates (including AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM to physicians), American Board of Internal Medicine Maintenance of Certification points, Continuing Nursing Education certificates, certificates of participation, or certificates of completion.

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