Biopsychosocial Approach Proposed as Basis of Updated Treatment Model for Cancer Pain

A presentation given at the 7th World Congress of the World Institute of Pain (WIP), held recently in Maastricht, Netherlands, has proposed updates and revisions to the 3-step model for pain medicine published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1986, and still widely used for the management of cancer pain. Contending that the existing model does not sufficiently allow for individualized diagnosis and treatment, the recommendations urge adoption of a biopsychosocial approach to individualizing assessment and treatment of cancer pain.

The biopsychosocial approach considers the psychological state of the patient, the patient’s social support infrastructure, and his or her values and sense of spirituality, said Kris C.P. Vissers, MD, PhD, president-elect of the WIP. It also emphasizes a thorough assessment of the causes of the pain. This holistic view of pain is able to account for the significant variations in the amount of pain, suffering, and resulting coping behaviors among patients with the same anatomical abnormalities.

Read a news story about the recommendations here.   

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