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Professor Herr Brings Expertise to the Far East

2012 Professor Herr China Visit

As part of a collaborative geriatric pain education project that addresses the needs of an aging population, Keela Herr, PhD, RN, AGSF, FAAN, professor & associate dean for faculty at UI’s College of Nursing, recently gave a series of lectures at Southern Medical University’s Zhujiang Hospital in Guangzhou, China.

“Addressing the challenge of pain in older adults from a global perspective is very important and the opportunity to contribute to this agenda through international partnerships is very rewarding personally and professionally,” said Dr. Herr.

Funded by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Developing Countries Pain Education Project, Dr. Herr presented on challenges, assessment and best practices in geriatric pain management.

This follow-up lecture for the IASP project and Chinese primary health care providers was organized by Li Li, MSN, RN, a former visiting scholar at the UI College of Nursing in 2005.

As the visiting professor of Southern Medical University since 2005, Dr. Herr has now made three trips to China – each time she presented on pain related topics to assist nurses and other health care professionals to improve assessment and management of pain in elders.

“The Chinese audiences have been very receptive to the messages regarding improving recognition and treatment of pain in older persons,” noted Herr. “There is clear interest in what is new in the United States and how other countries are addressing this challenging problem.”

According to the IASP website, “by the end of 2010, the number of older adults over 60 years old in China reached 178 million, accounting for 13.3 percent of the total population. Usually, community hospitals are the first place for older adults to visit when they are sick; however, there are important knowledge gaps that impact quality pain care for older Chinese. Though some pain education programs have been developed to improve doctors' and nurses' knowledge on pain in hospitals in China, the majority of primary health care providers still have knowledge deficits in pain, especially geriatric pain. Under-treatment of pain can lead to increased length of hospital stays, greater health care costs, decreased quality of life, depression, and diminished socialization.”

“Pain is common for older people regardless of their country or culture,” added Herr. “There is considerable cross-culture commonality regarding best practices for assessing and treating pain, although it is still important to evaluate the cultural relevance of research findings conducted in different populations. I have had a wonderful collaboration with Chinese colleagues to advance this cross-cultural work.”

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Keela Herr, PhD, RN, FAAN, AGSF, and associate dean for faculty is professor and chair of adult and gerontology in the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa, and academic associate, Department of Nursing Services and Patient Care, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. She is currently co-director for the Iowa John A. Hartford Foundation Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence, and co-director of the Regional Training Core of the Gerontological Nursing Interventions Research Center. Her research interests include end-of-life pain management; pain assessment and measurement; and promoting evidence-based practices.

About the IASP Project
Funded by the IASP Developing Countries Pain Education Project, a geriatric pain education program for Chinese primary health care providers in the community started in Guangzhou on December 9, 2011. Organized by Li Li, MSN, RN, at Zhujiang Hospital Southern Medical University, a group of multidisciplinary pain clinicians specializing in rehabilitation, orthopedics, oncology, and anesthesiology, as well as nursing, presented on topics related to pain in older adults specifically designed for primary health care providers. More information can be found

Posted On: 
May 3rd, 2012