Postgraduate distance-taught papers in pain and pain management


If you haven’t started planning 2008 postgraduate study yet – there are a couple of ‘down-under’ papers that you can choose from.

University of Otago, Christchurch has the Postgraduate Diploma in Musculoskeletal Medicine (for medical practitioners), which includes a number of papers that can be credited to Masters of Health Sciences. These papers cover a broad range of musculoskeletal topics but the two I want to highlight are Pain and Pain Management.

All papers are distance-taught, using a combination of comprehensive readings (provided), online discussion and fortnightly teleconference calls. Pain and Pain Management are taught in the first semester, and enrolments are being called for now! Students come from around New Zealand, Australia, HongKong, Singapore, UK. A unique feature of these papers is the very strong interdisciplinary approach – students come with backgrounds of medicine, psychology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nursing, osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, podiatry… Another strong feature is the emphasis on the biopsychosocial model throughout the papers.

Paper MSMX 704 – Pain

The aim of the paper is to provide an understanding of the broad range of clinical techniques used for the assessment, treatment and management of musculoskeletal pain. The paper is designed to complement MSMX 708 Pain Management.

  1. Biopsychosocial model of pain.
  2. Pain mechanisms.
  3. Neuropathic and spinal cord injury pain and central pain syndromes.
  4. Tissue specific pain entities.
  5. Psychology of pain.
  6. Behavioural aspects of pain
  7. Cognitive aspects of pain.
  8. Pain related fear and avoidance in pain – a model of disability.

Assessment is by completion of a case study of a person experiencing pain and a two hour written examination.

Paper MSMX 708 – Pain Management

The aim of this paper is to provide an understanding of the broad range of clinical techniques used for the assessment, treatment and management of musculoskeletal pain. The paper is designed to complement MSMX 704 Pain.

  1. Pain assessment and outcome
  2. Treatment effects and placebo
  3. Cognitive behavioural treatment – theoretical
  4. a – Clinical intervention – Clinical Techniques.
    b – Multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary treatment for chronic pain.
  5. Interventional pain management
  6. Primary and secondary analgesia.
  7. Neuromodulation
  8. Psychopathology and chronic pain – assessment and management

Assessment is by completion of a case study applying an evidence-based pain management approach, that is also based on case formulation. A two hour written examination is also required.

For busy clinicians, these papers are a relatively heavy workload – but at the end of the papers most students say they have developed a new awareness of pain as a biopsychosocial phenomenon.

For occupational therapists there is another option – through the Otago Polytechnic Occupational Therapy School, in the second semester, a distance-taught paper in Pain and Pain Management will be offered. This paper can also be credited to Masters of Health Science, and Postgraduate Diploma in Occupational Therapy. More details about this occupational therapy specific paper will come later!

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