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How To Reduce Pain in Vulnerable Populations

The 2019 Global Year Against Pain initiative hopes to change the way pain is handled in vulnerable populations, including in older persons, infants and young children, individuals with cognitive impairments/psychiatric disorders and survivors of torture.

If you have ever experienced chronic pain – or if you support someone who has – you know how debilitating it can be. It affects every part of your life – from your career to your social life and even to carrying out everyday activities. It’s crucial to have a support network to help you manage your pain. However, those living with pain in vulnerable populations may not have that support. 

That’s something the 2019 Global Year Against Pain initiative hopes to change.

A global effort: pain in vulnerable populations

Chronic pain management is far from simple. It often takes time and a variety of approaches to feel improvement. By supporting the 2019 Global Year Against Pain initiative, you’ll be joining a community, as well as improving chronic pain care. 

The initiative seeks to “highlight the needs of people who are unable to articulate their pain in a way that health care professionals can understand and/or whose pain problems are underestimated.” In addition to this goal, it seeks to help those living with chronic pain receive effective pain control.

pain in vulnerable populations senior woman talking to health care provider

It focuses on 4 populations: 

  • Older persons (including pain in dementia): about 50% of the 35 million people worldwide with dementia experience chronic pain. 
  • Infants and young children: Infants and young children don’t have the vocabulary to describe their pain. Research shows that unresolved pain can lead to mental health issues throughout adulthood. 
  • Individuals with cognitive impairments/psychiatric disorders: In some cases, the experience and reaction of people in this category to chronic pain may be atypical and misinterpreted.
  • Survivors of torture: The focus of support in this population is often psychological care. However, treatment for chronic pain is often cast aside as secondary. 

The goal is to raise awareness about chronic pain in each of these populations. Ultimately, improving pain assessment processes and implementing effective pain management techniques is essential for their care. 

pain in vulnerable populations pediatrician talking to a young girl

Supporting the Global Year Against Pain 

You may be a loved one of someone with chronic pain. Or, you may be a health care professional. Either way, you can help build a much-needed community of support. You can:

Learn about the initiative’s May 2019 7th International Congress on Neuropathic Pain here: 

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Raising awareness and changing lives

Living with chronic pain is difficult for anyone. However, living with chronic pain and not being able to communicate the experience adds another layer of complications. 

Raising awareness about the chronic pain experience in these 4 vulnerable populations brings attention to assessments as well as methods. It also helps create spaces for building evidence where it is lacking and meeting needs through varying modalities. 

How will you raise awareness?

Tell us in the comments!

What topics related to managing pain would you like to see us explore?

Email us at info@painresource.com.

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Sasha deBeausset
Sasha deBeausset is a nutritional anthropologist and licensed nutritionist with a B.A. from Tufts University and a M.Sc. in Food and Nutrition from the University of San Carlos. She has been awarded for her academic writing and research, and she has been blogging on food, health, and nutrition for over five years. Sasha is passionate about contributing to making quality and research-based information available freely on the web so people can inform themselves and make better decisions for their health.


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