Why we are using social media to improve pain in dementia.
Did you know that the vast majority of research findings never make their way into widespread clinical practice? The minority of research findings that make it into practice, take an average of 17 years to get there!
We have known for at least a couple of decades that pain in dementia is underassessed, underrecognized and undermanaged because people with moderate to severe dementia have limited ability to communicate their pain experience verbally. They cannot always tell us that there are in pain. We have heard stories of severe pain problems, such as fractures, that have gone undetected for days and sometimes longer.
Although easy to use clinical approaches and guidelines to better evaluate pain in dementia (e.g., the PACSLAC-II) are available, these are often not implemented and many point-of-care staff are unfamiliar with the latest methods of evaluating pain in people who have limited ability to communicate. Yes, it takes on average 17 years for important findings about pain assessment to make their way into practice but most people who live in long-term care will not be around for 17 years to benefit from solutions that are available today.
Traditionally researchers have been communicating their findings in academic journals and less often using informational brochures and workshops/webinars for clinicians. These approaches tend to increase clinician knowledge but are not very effective in changing practices and outcomes for patients. We need to move our research findings faster, more widely and straight into the hands of those who need them the most: health care staff, patients and families. We also need to ensure systemic and policy changes to improve pain care for our seniors.
Unlike traditional approaches of mobilizing research knowledge (e.g., brochures), social media have the potential of allowing us to reach millions of people including stakeholders (patients, families, policy makers, health care administrators and health care professionals). In this way we can disseminate knowledge faster and potentially influence policy change.
- Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Ph.D.
How You Can Help?
Would you like to share your thoughts on our See Pain More Clearly initiative and the use of social media to mobilize knowledge about pain in dementia?
We are looking for people to participate in a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the #SeePainMoreClearly social media initiative to mobilize knowledge about pain in dementia.
Dr. Hadjistavropoulos is an international leader in the area of pain assessment in dementia and has shown leadership in the promotion of the health sciences at the local, national and international level. He is the Research Chair in Aging and Health, Director of the Centre on Aging and Health and Professor of Psychology at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He served as the 2007 President of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).