“Our research suggests that the perception of others’ pain can be altered,” Dr Wandner said. “While there are a number of reasons why this could happen, this study suggests that the more one can relate to another or put oneself in their shoes, the more likely one may be to alter one’s perception of others’ pain.”

Bill McCarberg, MD, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and a primary care physician in San Diego, California, told Clinical Pain Advisor that additional training may help clinicians be more aware of any possible bias they may have when treating patients.

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“We’ve found over and over again in other settings that we as clinicians make judgments,” he said. “Maybe you can make the clinician aware of that. You can do simple training for the clinician and maybe the provider can be more aware that there is a bias and may not make a judgment so hastily.”

Future Research Needed

Further studies are needed to determine if a perspective-taking intervention affects pain management ratings and whether educational tutorials can be created to make this work, Dr Wandner said.

“Future research is warranted, however, to determine how healthcare trainees and healthcare professionals respond to an online perspective-taking intervention and what dose of a perspective-taking treatment and combination of techniques is needed to reduce discrepancies in treatment,” she concluded.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

References

1. Wandner L, Torres C, George S, Robinson M, Bartley E. Effect of a perspective-taking intervention on the consideration of pain assessment and treatment decisions. J Pain Res. 2015;809. doi:10.2147/jpr.s88033.

2.  Institute of Medicine. Relieving pain in America: a blueprint for transforming prevention, Care, Education and Research. The National Academies Press, 2011. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13172&page=1. Accessed November 23, 2015.