Updated March 2014
The American Pain Society
The American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary organization of basic and clinical scientists, practicing clinicians, policy analysts and others who research and treat pain and advocate for patients with pain. The mission of APS is to advance pain-related research, education, treatment and professional practice.
Based in Chicago, IL, APS was founded in 1978 with 510 charter members. From the outset, the group was conceived as a multidisciplinary organization. Today, the organization is made up of more than 2,200 members. The board of directors includes representatives from medicine, anesthesiology, nursing, psychology, health policy and basic science.
Through its various professional programs, APS seeks to educate and influence clinicians, policy makers and health insurance providers to optimize the treatment of acute and chronic pain. Its four main areas of focus are research, education, treatment and advocacy.
What Is the Impact of Untreated and Undertreated Pain?
Pain is the leading public health problem in this country and the most common symptom that leads to medical care.
According to a landmark report issued by the Institute of Medicine in 2011, acute and chronic pain affects at least 100 million U.S. adults and its cost to the nation's economy is estimated between $ 560 billion to 630 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity. Back pain alone produces chronic disability in 1 percent of the U.S. population and is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. As our population ages, the already significant problem of chronic pain in the elderly will increase.
Proper assessment of pain is crucial for effective treatment. In health care organizations, providers should view pain as the "Fifth Vital Sign" and assess it regularly, along with the other vital signs.
APS Clinical Practice Guidelines
Numerous APS committees, task forces and special interest groups address concerns and issues related to managed care, regulatory affairs, public policy, evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, education and research.
APS has published highly regarded guidelines for clinicians and patients (adults and children) for treating and managing pain associated with sickle cell disease, arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, low back pain and chronic non-cancer pain.
The American Pain Society has identified a broad agenda of pain issues and advocates in numerous arenas to improve the care of patients with pain.
The society's goals in this activity are to advance the care of people in pain by ensuring access to treatment, removing regulatory barriers, increasing funding for pain research and educating practitioners and policy makers in all settings about advances and economics of effective pain treatment.
The Journal of Pain (JOP) is the peer review publication of the American Pain Society widely and is considered as a leading scholarly journal in the field of pain management.
Key Milestones Since 2000
- Establishment of the APS Clinical Practice Guidelines Program in 1998, which to date has published guidelines covering pain treatment associated with cancer, arthritis, sickle cell, fibromyalgia, low back pain and chronic non-cancer pain.
- Played a critical role in the adoption in 2000 by the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Health Care Organizations of national standards for pain assessment and management by hospitals and other accredited health care facilities.
- Through collaborations with other members of the Pain Care Coalition, APS was instrumental in the designation of the first decade of the 21st century as the Decade of Pain Control and Research. APS has sponsored several Decade of Pain initiatives, which include the Future Leaders in Pain Research Small Grants Program, the Decade of Pain Lecture at the APS annual meeting, the annual Kathleen P. Foley Award for outstanding journalistic achievement in pain and pain management coverage, and aggressive support for the Pain Care Policy Act, which became law in 2010 as part of the Accountable Care Act.
- Sponsorship of studies at the University of Utah tracking federal funding for pain research. The initial results, published in 2005 in The Journal of Pain, comprised the first-ever classification of National Institutes of Health spending on pain research. The study showed that in 2003 the agency funded 581 primary pain grants totaling $170 million, but they accounted for just one percent of all NIH research funding that year.
APS Strategic Plan and Mission
In 2004, the APS Board of Directors began redefining the mission, vision and values of the organization. This helped set goals and strategies to guide the organization for the near future.
The American Pain Society is a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering.
APS envisions a world where pain prevention and relief are available to all people.
Key Strategic Goals
- Be recognized as the most credible and effective advocate for the prevention or relief of useless pain.
- Useless pain will be viewed as a major health problem.
- Promote interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary research to increase knowledge of pain and pain relief mechanisms.
- Promote research that translates knowledge about pain relief mechanisms into improvements in practice.
- Increase access to appropriate care and improve pain care in primary care practice.