Essential Pain Management program

Unrelieved pain is a major global healthcare problem and its importance is often unrecognised. Adequate pain management results in fewer medical complications, earlier hospital discharge and improved quality of life.​

Essential Pain Management (EPM) is a short, easily deliverable, cost-effective, multi-disciplinary program designed to improve pain management worldwide. It aims to:

  • Improve pain knowledge.
  • Teach health workers to "recognise, assess and treat pain" (RAT).
  • Address pain management barriers.
  • Train local health workers to teach EPM.

The EPM program

The Essential Pain Management program has two parts – the EPM one-day workshop and the EPM instructor workshop. Typically we run a “one-half-one” series of courses. On day one, we run a one-day interactive EPM workshop. On day two, participants from the first day attend a half-day instructor workshop. On day three, the newly trained instructors run one or two courses with the help of the visiting team.

Essential Pain Management uses a “snowball” model for training. Potential instructors are identified early and, through the instructor workshop, are provided with the skills to run more workshops. They are immediately provided with an opportunity to run their own workshop with the support of more experienced instructors.

Further information on the one day workshop, instructor workshop are our EPM Lite workshop are detailed below. If you are interested in running the EPM program at your hospital, clinic or university please contact us here.

EPM workshop

A one-day program of interactive lectures and group discussions. Participants learn the basics of pain management, apply the "recognise, assess and treat pain" (RAT) approach during case discussions, and problem-solve pain management barriers.

EPM Instructor Workshop

A half-day program designed to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to become EPM instructors. Participants learn the basics of adult learning, practice teaching skills and plan their own EPM workshops. The EPM Instructor Workshop is followed by one-day workshops taught by the new instructors.

EPM Lite

Designed for medical and nursing students and is a modified version of the one-day workshop. The program can be delivered in four to five hours and covers the basics of pain management as well as how to use the "recognise, assess and treat pain" (RAT) approach

Who is EPM for?

The program is designed for any health worker who comes in contact with patients who have pain. The "recognise, assess and treat pain" (RAT) approach can be applied to pain of all types (acute or chronic, cancer or non-cancer) and can be used by all types of health workers, including doctors, nurses, clinic workers and pharmacists.

For some, the information in the EPM Workshop will be new. For others, the course will provide revision of basic principles, a systematic approach for managing patients in pain and a system for teaching others about pain management.

EPM resources

Please contact us to obtain the EPM instructor manual 

Select Document Download Type
1 EPM participant manual (English) PDF
2 EPM slides (English) PDF
3 EPM manuel de l’atelier (Francais) PDF
4 EPM slides (Francais) PDF
5 EPM Manual del participante (Espanol) PDF
Download selected

Select Document Download Type
1 EPM Lite participant manual (English) PDF
2 EPM Lite slides (English) PDF
Download selected

Select Document Download Type
EPM information flyer PDF
EPM bookmark PDF
Download selected


The EPM app for both iPhone/iPad and Android is available for downloading. Search for <essential pain management> in the App Store or Google play.

The EPM app is intended as a mobile companion for those who have attended the course, however it may benefit any healthcare worker who cares for patients in pain and is easy and intuitive to use.

The app takes the user through the “RAT” formula while assessing a patient, arrives at a pain diagnosis and then suggests non-drug and drug treatments based on the course and manual.

The app’s logbook feature allows the user to record serial patient assessment details including treatments on their handheld device and to export and share this information with colleagues. Users are cautioned against storing patient identifiers and should seek local guidelines for this. The app can also be used without storing any details.

EPM newsletter

Our instructor e-newsletter is a great source of information on new programs and follow-up visits. To subscribe to the newsleter, please contact us.

EPM online reporting tool

The online reporting tool is designed to be easy to complete and allows the EPM Committee to track all the great EPM activities around the world. All instructors are asked to use this tool to facilitate simplified and improved data collection. 

EPM publications

The history of EPM

Essential Pain Management (EPM) was developed by ANZCA fellows, Dr Roger Goucke from Western Australia and Dr Wayne Morriss from New Zealand following discussions with anaesthetists in Papua New Guinea (PNG) about the lack of training opportunities for pain management in PNG.

Dr Goucke and Dr Morriss ran a pilot program assisted by local anaesthetists Dr Gertrude Marun and Dr Harry Aigeeleng in Lae and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in April 2010.

An Essential Pain Management Sub-Committee was established in early 2013. This committee was succeeded by a joint ANZCA and World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) EPM steering committee following the establishment of a joint partnership agreement between ANZCA and the WFSA.

Read more

Where has EPM been run?

EPM has been run in the following countries:











Cook Islands

Czech Republic

Democratic Republic of Congo

Dominican Republic


El Salvador







Hong Kong

















New Zealand




Papua New Guinea








Solomon Islands

South Africa

Sri Lanka






United Kingdom




EPM would not be possible without the commitment of its many supporters. Special thanks to:

Australian Society of Anaesthetists | The Ronald Geoffrey Arnott Foundation (managed by Perpetual Trustees) | World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists | International Association for the Study of Pain | Royal Australasian College of Surgeons | Interplast Australia and New Zealand | ANZCA Research Foundation | Pacific Islands Project | Royal College of Anaesthetists | Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain & Ireland

If you are interested in supporting the EPM program please contact us for more information. If you would like to make a donation towards the EPM program, we can accept donations made through the ANZCA Research Foundation.

Read more


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Last updated 09:52 19.01.2021