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UMFK nursing division to promote public awareness of sound pain management throughout September

September 5, 2003


Students and faculty in the University of Maine at Fort Kent division of nursing are joining in a national campaign to raise public awareness of sound pain management throughout the month of September, which has been declared Pain Awareness Month.

UMFK student nurses and their teachers will be participating in PAIN: Pain Awareness is Important to Nurses, a project of Partners for Understanding Pain, a consortium of more than 60 professional and consumer organizations that have an interest in the topic.

Participants from the UMFK campus will circulate pain fact sheets and buttons that read "Sound Pain Management Will Brighten Your World" to patients and health care providers at the clinical faculties where the students will be doing their clinical rotations, including Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent, Cary Medical Center in Caribou, and Borderview Rehabilitation and Living Center in Van Buren. Posters will also be displayed in these facilities.

A pain resource catalog compiled by the Partners for Understanding Pain will also be distributed to the facilities as a resource guide for health care providers.

"Pain is a serious public health and economic issue that affects us all; however, there is a need for increased understanding of comprehensive pain management among health care providers and consumers alike," said Rachel Albert, director of UMFK's division of nursing. The faculty and students of the division of nursing are promoting September as pain awareness month to focus on the importance of improved assessment and treatment of pain."

Studies show that unmanaged pain can slow the rate of recovery for surgical patients and affect the quality of outcomes. Cancer patients who experience breakthrough pain are hospitalized and visit the emergency room more often than patients whose pain is under control.

Costs associated with prolonged chronic pain total approximately $100 billion a year.

Another reason the nursing division at UMFK is participating in the project is because it is nurses that often find themselves on the front lines of the fight against pain.

Through the grass roots PAIN campaign, nurses throughout the country and the UMFK student nurses hope to increase awareness and understanding among health care facilities' staff, patients, and the public about the complex issues of assessing and treating pain.

In addition to Partners for Understanding Pain the September campaign is endorsed by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, American Nurses Association, American Society of Pain Management Nurses, and the American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses.

"Pain can touch any of us," noted Penney Cowan, executive director of the American Chronic Pain Association and convener of Partners for Understanding Pain. "It is the number one cause of adult disability in the United States, affecting one in three Americans, yet there is still apathy and a lack of understanding about pain."

Partners for Understanding Pain is dedicated to raising awareness about chronic, acute, and cancer pain through community outreach and a national media campaign. Partners' goals also include building a more comprehensive network of knowledge and better utilizing existing resources about pain management among its members.

For more information about the UMFK division of nursing's participation in Pain Awareness Month activities, contact Rachel Albert at (207) 834-7584.

For information on other activities of Partners for Understanding Pain, contact the American Chronic Pain Association at 800-533-3231 or by email at