Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women Applauds the Historic Effort to Improve Pain Research, Care and Education


WASHINGTON D.C. (November 22, 2010) –  The organizational leaders of the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women applaud the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) for beginning a historic review of the state of pain research, care and education in America.  In May the Campaign released a landmark study which found that up to 50 million American women suffer from one or more neglected chronic pain conditions which solely or disproportionately impact women (chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular disorders and vulvodynia).  The report found that much of the up to $80 billion annual cost of these co-morbid conditions could be saved through better research and care.

The IOM study was mandated as part of the recently passed health care reform law and is being funded by the NIH.  In addition to reviewing the adequacy of U.S. efforts, the IOM is to develop recommendations on how to significantly improve the state of pain research, assessment, diagnosis and treatment.  The IOM panel’s final report is expected to be presented to Congress by June 2011 and its recommendations are expected to have a major impact on future U.S. policy towards pain research and care.

Terrie Cowley, President of the TMJ Association, will be presenting to the IOM panel on behalf of the Campaign and will urge that the IOM effort give appropriate attention to co-morbid chronic pain conditions that exclusively or disproportionately impact women.  “Tens of millions of American women are looking to you to lay out a bold set of recommendations that will ultimately lead to better care,” stated Cowley.  “You have an historic opportunity to send a strong message that this country takes chronic pain conditions that solely or disproportionately impact women seriously and recognizes the tremendous toll that they take on women, their families and our nation.”  

In addition to presenting the Campaign’s key report findings, Ms. Cowley put forth the following essential components of an effective plan to address these often co-morbid or overlapping pain conditions:

  • HHS-funded research on these conditions needs to be significantly increased, and taxpayer investments should be made more efficient and effective by placing greater priority on collaborative interdisciplinary research across the conditions, as well as across HHS agencies and NIH Institutes and Offices.

  • HHS agencies need to aggressively expand, in a multidisciplinary fashion, the scientific field dedicated to studying chronic pain conditions.

  • HHS should launch an aggressive multi-year awareness campaign, which includes the most current scientific information on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these disorders, to educate health care professionals, patients and the American public. 

“You can redefine how our nation confronts what is an epidemic of chronic pain conditions,” stated Cowley.  “We need a concerted and coordinated effort to address the needs of millions of American women,” stated Cowley.  “Equity demands no less.”

The Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women is an advocacy campaign fighting to end discrimination and improve care for women suffering from chronic pain. The Campaign is led by volunteer leaders from the CFIDS Association of America, Endometriosis Association, National Vulvodynia Association, and The TMJ Association. Information about the Campaign including its report, and short film featuring real women with these conditions can be found at www.EndWomensPain.org.