EQUIP for Pain: Enhancing the capacity of primary health care providers in BC in the provision of equitable health services for people living in pain in marginalized conditions in BC

Research co-leads:

  • Kenneth Craig
    University of British Columbia 
  • Francine Darroch
    University of British Columbia 
  • Cindy Holmes
    University of Victoria
  • Colleen Varcoe
    University of British Columbia 

Research user co-leads:

  • Maria Hudspith
    Pain BC
  • Niknaz Kahnamoui
    Pain BC

Team member:

  • Sharalyn Jordan
    Simon Fraser University

Marginalized people typically experience higher prevalence of painful medical conditions compared to non-marginalized people, but access and use pain management services less frequently. This project will work towards solutions by bringing together people in marginalized conditions living with chronic pain, primary care providers, community health care centres, non-profit organizations and pain researchers along with scholars who specialize in trauma and violence informed care (TVIC) for a one-day knowledge translation gathering.

To prepare for this event, the team will engage with people in marginalized conditions and focusing on three groups: Indigenous peoples, newcomers and refugees, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2S) communities living with chronic pain in three small group dialogue sessions to explore their unique perspectives and lived experiences. In parallel, the team will also conduct outreach to identify health care providers throughout the province committed to making their practices more culturally accessible and safe. The purpose of the final gathering is to:

  1. Center the voice of people living in marginalized conditions and with chronic pain, to inform research, practice, and policy to create more equitable structures and programs for pain care.
  2. Support individuals and organizations to identify the gaps in their provision of pain care service and program delivery that contribute to inequitable access and to develop plans for applying the theory and evidence behind cultural safety and TVIC, as developed by the CIHR funded EQUIP research project.
  3. Enhance pain researchers’ awareness of the body of knowledge regarding TVIC to help inform their research priorities and questions.

Approximately 1 million British Columbians live with chronic pain. A substantial proportion of these people also have a history of trauma, suffer discrimination, experience emotional stress and depression, and might also struggle with substance use. The BC Centre for Disease Control recently identified support for pain management therapies as one of its top three priorities to help prevent illegal drug overdose. This project tackles health service delivery at the intersection of chronic pain, trauma and systematic discrimination. The overdose crisis provides an urgent backdrop for the work. While resources are most needed to directly address the impacts of the overdose crisis, i.e. harm reduction, interventions at an earlier stage will help prevent the further escalation of the problem and help reduce and better manage people’s suffering.