A Recap of PAINWeek 2015

An Interview with Kevin L. Zacharoff, MD

Dr. Zacharoff is a licensed, board-certified anesthesiologist with more than 25 years of clinical experience in anesthesiology and pain medicine, and has served as a consultant in the pain management field for over 10 years. Dr. Zacharoff is the Medical Director of PainEDU and painACTION.

Elsbeth McSorley:

What activities was PainEDU involved in at PAINWeek 2015?

Kevin L. Zacharoff, MD: As always, the team from PainEDU played an integral role in PAINWeek 2015. Involvement included a very energetic and well-attended exhibit booth, recognition of the ten PainEDU Scholarship to PAINWeek recipients at the Keynote address, and a number of scientific poster presentations including the integration of PainEDU, painACTION, and PainCAS and findings about clinician beliefs and practices regarding chronic opioid therapy from research gathered during the 18 months of the PainEDU ER/LA Opioid REMS Education Program. Additionally, our special interest educational sessions covered a variety of topics including the transition from acute to chronic pain, how managing pain is more often an “imperfect solution” than a perfect one, how we need to disseminate education and best practices more than we have done thus far to prevent reliving history and experiencing the “Groundhog Day Phenomenon,” and the role of technology in pain medicine – especially with respect to standardization of assessment, documentation, practice, and measuring outcomes with tools like the PainCAS.


EM: What was your overall impression of the PAINWeek 2015 conference?

KZ: PAINWeek 2015 successfully continued its tradition of providing a wealth of education to frontline practitioners of varied disciplines. I would say that it’s clear that this conference maintains its positive momentum, keeping true to just the right balance between science and clinical practicality.


EM: What were some of the program highlights this year?

KZ: One of the biggest highlights of this year’s conference was the consistently diverse offering of educational tracks, offering over 20 distinct tracks for attendees to either follow throughout the course of the meeting, or to take a “mix and match” approach. The tracks ran the gamut, from behavioral pain management to special interests, from musculoskeletal pain conditions to health coaching. Other highlights included specific focus on pain conditions and subjects that don’t often get adequate representation at other pain conferences, such as pelvic pain, pain in the older patient population, the relationship of pain and sleep, and neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.


EM: Who attended PAINWeek 2015?

KZ: As in past years, PAINWeek’s diverse range of attendees played a very large role in defining the quality of the meeting. Attendees (over 2,300) included clinicians from just about every discipline imaginable including physicians, nurses/nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physician assistants, psychologists, dentists, and social workers to name a few. People in training were alongside of people with years of clinical experience and everyone was hungry to learn something to bring back to clinical practice or to teach others.
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EM: Was there any particularly noteworthy part of the meeting?

KZ: I think the most noteworthy part of the meeting to me was very effectively dealing with the fact that while there is not much “new” in the field of pain management, there is certainly plenty to learn about pain and its management. I think that keeping things fresh and engaging can often be a challenge and the meeting succeeded in that regard. Additionally, I think the scientific poster session this year was fantastic, with a very good spectrum of clinically meaningful information and excitement. It was a very good complement to the educational sessions, and very well attended.
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EM: What do you anticipate for PAINWeek 2016?

KZ: I see PAINWeek 2016 continuing to be a well-attended, highly energetic, and engaging conference. I met many people at this past meeting who plan on coming back next year and telling others about its value to frontline practitioners. Given the number of healthcare providers in the United States today, along with the persistent educational deficits and challenges that exist today for a variety of reasons, PAINWeek 2016 will likely continue on the trajectory of growth, in terms of attendance, scope, and educational value.