Pain Foundations for Primary Care Providers

About Pain Foundations

Pain Foundations for Primary Care Providers is an online course designed specifically for physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses to improve their understanding of chronic pain and how to address the challenges of pain assessment and treatment. By completing this course, primary care providers will be able to:

  • Identify and recognize the underlying symptoms of acute and chronic pain from a biopsychosocial perspective
  • Use assessment tools to monitor the biopsychosocial impacts of pain on patients and create and assess patient pain management plans
  • Implement non-pharmacological strategies to create holistic and individualized treatment plans for people living with pain
  • Learn to empower patients to self-manage pain

Why you should take this course

  • Clinically relevant: Non-pharmacological approaches to managing chronic pain are more important than ever. Developed in consultation with experts in the field of pain, as well as people with lived experience of pain, Pain Foundations will enable you to gain foundational knowledge in chronic pain and pain management and serves as a basis for further learning.
  • Brought to you by Canada’s pain experts: Pain Foundations was developed by Pain BC, a national and international leader in chronic pain. We offer Pain BC Certification, a stamp of quality recognized around the world.
  • Online, compact and self-paced: Learn at your own pace and from the comfort of your home or office with minimal time away from your practice, family, and life.


  • For members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC): This self-learning program has been certified by CFPC for up to 15 Mainpro+ credits.
  • For self-reporting learners: Upon completion of this course, learners will receive a certificate they can submit to their college/licensing body to apply for up to 15 hours of continuing professional development (CPD).

Course outline

  1. Person in pain: A lived experience perspective
    1. How pain affects the person
    2. Emotion, social well-being, and pain
    3. Trauma, stress, and cognition
    4. Spirituality and beliefs
    5. Environmental and cultural factors affecting the person
  2. Pain physiology
    1. Introduction
    2. Acute vs. chronic
    3. The role of the autonomic nervous system in the experience of pain
    4. The brain and pain
    5. Pain types and classifications
    6. Physical pain stories
  3. Biopsychosocial pain assessment in clinical settings
    1. Biopsychosocial pain assessment
    2. Comprehensive pain and medical history
    3. Standardized assessment tools
    4. Using assessment tools in practice
  4. Using opioids safely: Practical guidance for pain management
  5. Collaborative pain care: A team-based approach
    1. Introduction to treatment options
    2. Non-pharmacological management
    3. Medical interventions
    4. Pharmacological treatment options
    5. Self-management
    6. Self-management strategies
  6. Patient cases



Contributors and reviewers: Terri Aldred, MD; Terri Betts, BSc (Pharm), ACPR; Wesley Buch, PhD R.Psych; Donna Buna, BSc Pharm, PharmC; Michael Butterfield, MD; May Caprio, PhD, R.Psych; Sarah Derman, RN; Ada Glustein, MA (Ed); Bruce Hobson, MD; Najam Mian, MD; Janice Muir, CNS; Neil Pearson, PT, MSC (RHBS), BA-BPHE, C-IAYT, ERYT500; Brenda Poulton, MN, RN, NP(A); Arun Radhakrishnan, MD; Lindsey Rite, BSc (Kin), DC, CSEP-CEP; Cameron Ross, MD; Susan Reid-Schellinck, BSc (OT); Pamela Squire, MD; Shirley Sze, MD; Davidicus Wong, MD.

Event Sponsors

Funding for this course is provided by the Government of British Columbia.