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BackPage Online, September 2019

doi: 10.1097/01.BACK.0000580364.92762.e4
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Fewer and Fewer US MDs Going into Primary Care

Recent statistics on the career choices of young doctors spell bad news for people with low back pain. Most back pain doesn't need any medical attention. But when it does require the services of an MD, primary care physicians are better suited than specialists to act as an introduction to the medical system. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer medical students in the United States are choosing to go into primary care—often due to concerns about burnout and job dissatisfaction. A record number of primary care positions were offered to medical students this year. But the percentage filled by US medical students was the lowest on record.

Here is an article on the waning popularity of the primary care professions from Kaiser Health News:

https://khn.org/news/american-medical-students-less-likely-to-choose-to-become-primary-care-doctors

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Self-Reported Health of Americans Declining

A recent study in JAMA Network Open found that the self-reported health of US residents has been in slow decline since 1993. And health inequities are on the rise. The health of individuals at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum has declined the most. So Americans need to make progress in overall health and close up widening socioeconomic gaps that influence health. Researchers and healthcare providers who are familiar with the evidence on low back pain won't be shocked at these findings. Back pain has generally imposed a heavier burden on the poor and uneducated than it does on the affluent.

Here is an article from National Public Radio that discusses these trends:

www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/06/28/736938334/the-gap-between-rich-and-poor-americans-health-is-widening

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American Pain Society Going Under in Wake of Opioid Crisis

The American Pain Society, once a dominant and influential force in pain medicine in the United States, has closed its doors in response to financial problems related to litigation over the opioid crisis. According to some observers, the APS played a major role in the development of the “Pain as the Fifth Vital Sign” initiative—and in the promotion of opioids as a long-term treatment for chronic pain in the absence of evidence of long-term benefit and safety. The APS asserts that its demise related to a series of meritless lawsuits. Some critics, on the other hand, suggested that its demise was richly deserved—because of its role in the deadly opioid crisis.

Here is a link to an article at Medscape announcing the dissolution of this once powerful society:

www.medpagetoday.com/painmanagement/painmanagement/80054

Here is a link to a longer article from the Pacific Standard on the demise of the APS:

https://psmag.com/news/under-pressure-from-opioid-lawsuits-one-pain-research-society-considers-bankruptcy

and an article from STAT that requires a subscription:

www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2019/05/23/american-pain-society-opioids-bankruptcy/

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