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CEWH Consultation

CEWH Consultation on Women's Chronic Pain and Prescription Opioid Use

submitted by WHD Research Liaison Stephanie Scodras, PT, PhD 


The Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (CEWH), a Canadian research and knowledge exchange centre focused on women's health, held an interdisciplinary consultation in January 2024 for their Women’s Chronic Pain and Prescription Opioid Use Project. Using a sex and gender-based analysis approach, the goal of the project is to create sex, gender, equity, and trauma informed resources that reflect women’s lived experiences with chronic pain and prescription opioids. After completing literature reviews and interviews with women with lived experience, the CEWH created multiple resources targeted to health and social service providers, women with chronic pain, and policy makers.

 

The consultation brought together health and social service providers (including physiotherapists and physicians), researchers, policy makers, and women with lived and living experience to provide feedback on these resources. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to represent the Women's Health Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association at this meeting.

 

Some of the take-aways from the consultation included:

  • Women and women-identifying individuals often experience more severe and recurrent chronic pain than men due to sex-related factors (e.g., hormonal, genetic) and gender-related factors (e.g., coping strategies, gender roles).

  • The evidence-based resources created by CEWH have the potential to reduce stigma and increase advocacy for the appropriate use of prescription opioids for women experiencing chronic pain by increasing knowledge of the risks and benefits of these medications.

  • By framing medication, including prescription opioids, as a treatment option within a holistic pain management plan, healthcare providers and patients can work together to find the right combination of psychological, physical, and pharmaceutical interventions for each individual. As such, treatment options should not be portrayed as a hierarchy, but rather a ‘toolbox’ that can be accessed based on individual needs.

  • Physiotherapists can offer evidence-based treatment options for pain management, and the resources reflect that physiotherapy should be considered as part of a holistic pain management plan.

  • Participants highlighted how gender roles should be taken into account when developing a patient’s ‘toolbox’ of pain-relief strategies. For example, women may have particular social circumstances in the workplace or at home that impact their pain experience and their access to certain treatments. The resources should reflect these factors.

  • The accessibility and inclusivity of these resources should be considered (e.g., graphics, access online and offline), and they should link or tie in to other existing evidence-based resources that currently exist.  

The next steps in the project include finalizing the resources by incorporating input from the consultation and completing an online training module dedicated to women's chronic pain and prescribed opioids. This module will serve as a central hub for training and resources in this domain.

 

More information about the Women’s Chronic Pain and Prescription Opioid Use Project can be found here: https://cewh.ca/featured-projects/womens-chronic-pain-and-prescription-opioid-use/

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