Psychosocial treatments are underutilized in the management of pain, as presented by Francis Keefe, PhD, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Psychology and Neuroscience, Anesthesiology and Medicine at Duke University Medical Center at the 14th World Congress on Pain. Dr. Keefe states that clinicians must focus on psychological and social factors such as stress, anxiety, work and personal environments, socioeconomic situations, etc., that can have  a negative impact on pain and the ability to tolerate pain. He states, “existing studies show benefits from cognitive, motivational, and emotional pathways developed to help patients cope with their pain without catastrophizing about it.” These approaches should be integrated into primary care settings.

Interactive strategies including both the involvement of health systems as well as the implementation of digital resources should be utilized. Dr. Keefe comments that “some health systems are now incorporating behavioral specialists with expertise in pain management to consult with healthcare providers who regularly work with chronic-pain patients.” New frontiers for psychosocial interventions may be provided through the Internet and new information technologies that could help deliver psychosocial interventions on a large scale by offering phone support and online training. Possible applications are multiple and might include relaxation training, interactive consulting, motivational pathways to better understand the role that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can have on pain perception, as well as sessions dedicated to the maintenance of coping skills.

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