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Pain Basics for Health Professionals

Exchange programme

Pain is a very strong and persistent phenomenon that lies at the heart of many healthcare practices. People suffer from pain when they are hurt or when they are recuperating from medical operations or other interventions.

Besides that, people experience pain as a consequence of debilitating diseases like cancer, diabetes, and stroke or for no apparent reason whatsoever. 

Pain is often a powerful experience and can be very persistent which confronts both patients and health professionals with a quest for relief. Epidemiological data shows that pain is one of the biggest challenges in current health care practices and that we should do our utmost best to perform better in order to get more grip on this problem. During the last decade, scientific research has shown several promising directions that we can explore and implement in our health care practices.

In order to be able to provide optimal care, it is of utmost importance that health professionals have knowledge of the neurobiology, psychology and sociology of this phenomenon and know how to diagnose, treat and guide patients with different forms of pain. Besides that it is important that they know of each other’s knowledge and guidelines that forms the practices of nurses, physical therapists and other health professionals.

Facts and figures

The programme at a glance

Programme structure

A view of the study programme

Programme structure

The programme consists of two – more or less separate – parts; one part aiming at the transfer of knowledge about the results of the pain sciences and one part aiming at discussing/reflecting on the practical implications of this knowledge for concrete practices and clinical cases.

The minor contains different educational formats; the relevant body of knowledge of pain basics will be studied and discussed via online lectures (‘knowledge clips’), the reading of key texts and life discussions led by clinicians/researchers in the field of pain.

Besides that, students will reflect on the practical implications of this knowledge for their practices. To further this, students will visit practices of pain rehabilitation and will discuss and reflect on clinical cases.


I Multidimensional nature of pain


A Epidemiology

  1. Pain as a public health problem with social, ethical, legal and economic consequences.
  2. Epidemiology with overview of statistics related to acute, recurrent and/or persistent (chronic) and cancer pain.
  3. Barriers to effective pain assessment and management: individual, family, health professional, society, political institutions.

B Pain Theory

  1. Definition of pain and pain terms
  2. Classification systems of pain
  3. Multiple dimensions of pain to include physiological, sensory, affective, cognitive behavioural, social/cultural/political

C. Ethics

  1. Ethical standards of care (provision of measures to minimize pain and suffering) for health care professionals.
  2. Inadequate pain management for specific groups including infants, children, elders, those with communication difficulties and/or learning disabilities.


The programme contains two examinations:

A: Knowledge

  • One lecture/week (100 minutes) about topics within the body of knowledge pain sciences;
  • Two lectures/week (2 x 100 minutes) about acquiring interviewing skills, analysing interviews and writing a research report;


  • Description of signs, symptoms, practical implications, cognitive and emotional consequences of pain and the quality of life of the person with pain        
  • Description of the ‘pain-belief system’ of person with pain        
  • Description of social factors in relation to pain        
  • Experiences with health care and health care professionals 


  • Theoretical exam  
  • Essay

B: Project

Project based on a question from health care practices. Question will be formulated in collaboration with the lectures involved in the programme. Questions are about the quality of care for patients with pain.

The project contains the following parts:  

  • Proposal  
  • Review of the relevant literature  
  • Report 
  • Poster 
  • Oral presentation


By following this programme, students prepare themselves to play a vital role in the – interdisciplinary – cure and care for patients with pain in the context of nursing, occupational and/or physical therapy practices. The knowledge and skills that they acquire following this programme will and ensure an enlarged body of knowledge of the pain sciences, enriched skills regarding diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities and a broadened view of multidisciplinary collaborations.


Where you can find us
Foto van locatie Location


Rochussenstraat 198 3015 EK Rotterdam

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