Simona Bujoreanu, PhD: Overcoming Obstacles in Chronic Pain Treatment


Dr. Simona Bujoreanu discusses the different types of barriers that are faced when treating chronic pain in pediatric patients.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think anything is simple when it comes to chronic pain,” said Simona Bujoreanu, PhD, Pediatric Psychologist, Pain Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital, Associate Director, Comfort Ability Program, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School.

Bujoreanu discussed the psychological treatments for pain as well as some of the barriers that are faced when treating chronic pain.

“The psychological strategies are very exciting,” Bujoreanu explained, “and yet, unfortunately under utilized from many, many perspectives, as far as knowledge, as far as access to care, as far as availability of specialists, barriers to insurance, and geographical area, there’s tons of barriers.”

On a societal level, there is still a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to psychological treatment, according to Bujoreanu. Not all families are ready and willing to accept this approach to treatment right away.

For the American Academy of Pediatrics conference, Bujoreanu shared a presentation: Tools to Tackle Chronic Pain Syndromes. In her presentation, Bujoreanu explained that chronic pain is best understood from the biopsychosocial perspective.

This approach extends beyond just a medication-based, or intervention-based treatment from a medical perspective and takes on a more rehabilitative multidisciplinary approach. Some therapeutic treatments that Bujoreanu mentioned include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy enables a patient to examine how their thoughts, or cognitive perspective, can impact them emotionally and influence their behavior. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy focuses on continuing to live a meaningful life even while in the presence of chronic pain.

Bujoreanu hopes that the biopsychosocial model approach becomes more understood in family and patient education. Many people think of chronic pain treatment specifically from a medical perspective, but this model can be a crucial point of intervention to better understand and treat chronic pain.

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