Pain is the most common reason for patients to see their general practitioner. A substantial proportion of adults (1 in 5) in Europe suffer from chronic pain that seriously affects the quality of their social and working lives – and its inadequate management constitutes a major healthcare problem. On a national level, 23% of Belgians suffered from chronic pain in a large European survey. The bio-psychosocial model of chronic pain recognizes chronic pain as a combination of physical dysfunction, beliefs, coping strategies, distress, illness behaviour, and social interactions. Since the introduction of the bio-psychosocial model, treatment of chronic pain has become multimodal and multidisciplinary, with the aim of maximizing pain reduction, quality of life, independence, and mobility. This multidisciplinary approach warrants focused knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the caregivers.
The general objective of education in Algology is to educate qualified specialists in the control of pain in its widest sense. During this postgraduate education, the physician gains the necessary scientific knowledge, skills, and attitudes in order to provide excellent patient care to patients with complex pain issues. The student gains a profound insight into complex forms of acute, subacute, and chronic pain. The student has to develop additional communicative, social, technical and manual skills to evaluate patients on a multidisciplinary level and to function in a multidisciplinary team. In addition, the student has to be able to apply his own specific expertise from previous specialized education in a multimodal treatment plan. The content of the education is organized based on the CanMEDS competence-domain: physician, scientist, communicator.
The Interuniversity Certificate/Postgraduate Studies in Algology is designed to teach advanced and multidisciplinary knowledge and skills of pain management to physicians in hospitals, pain centres, and private practice. The additional qualification designation can be attained by qualified doctors.
Students should hold the following degree issued by a university of the Flemish Community, or by a university of the French-speaking Community:
Master of Medicine
The "Postgraduate Studies in Algology" is accessible to holders of a doctor's title issued by the European Union. The other applications will be evaluated by the steering committee.
Students can also be admitted on the basis of a diploma obtained abroad, on the condition of approval of the Steering Committee and of compliance with the language requirements set for this study programme. In addition, for students for whom a visa is required, an application file for admission on the basis of a foreign diploma must be submitted at the university where they want to enrol, and after successful completion of the admission procedure, they will receive a letter of admission of the university concerned.
Minimum 20 and maximum 40 students can attend the programme.
The Interuniversity Certificate/Postgraduate Studies in Algology is accessible and aims for continuous professional development and broadening of the competencies that are gained after the completion of the master in medicine. More specifically, at the end of the postgraduate:
The students will be able to investigate acute pain syndromes, establish a suitable treatment for such acute nociceptive syndromes and follow up on the result continuously;
The students are able to evaluate the multidisciplinary character of a specific pain syndrome, including the implications of such pain complaints on the socio-economical functioning of the patients and the psycho-social consequences that derive from it;
The students are capable to perform a full evaluation of chronic pain syndromes, based on specific pain anamnesis, somatosensory clinical evaluations, application of specialized nociceptive diagnostic techniques and hetero-anamnesis;
The students are capable to draw up an individualized multimodal and multidisciplinary treatment plan, explain such plan to the patient (and his/her family) and follow up on its implementation in a competent way;
The students are capable to guide the patient actively and competently during revalidation programmes so that the reconditioning, reactivation and socio-economical reintegration can be optimized and facilitated;
The students are capable to evaluate insufficient analgesia from an ethical, moral and social point of view.
All students follow the same programme and there is no differentiation.
The programme is divided into 5-course units:
Advanced studies in algology, part 1 (26-30 October 2020): (due to Covid-19 pandemic, the course was offered in a blended education format). The main topics are neurobiology of pain, neuropharmacology of pain, basic principles of psychology and cognitive modulation of pain and cancer pain.
Advanced studies in algology, part 2 (25-29 October 2021): (to be confirmed) The students will spend 5,5 days on a domain in Spa, during which they will have lessons and workshops from morning till evening. The main topics are clinical pain syndromes, in-depth exploration of the psycho-social approach of pain and multidisciplinary strategies.
Internship 1&2: In total, the internship equals 25 credit points. Internship 1 has been assigned 12 credit points and Internship 2 13 credit points. The internship has to be completed in one of the 35 official pain centres in Belgium, under the supervision of the coordinating medical supervisor of the academic multidisciplinary pain centre.
Capita Selecta: The student attends national, international congresses or workshops about pain concerning research, treatment of pain, or other subjects as the epidemiology of pain, financial impact, etc. The goal is to get insight into the scientific work leading to an improved knowledge in pain pathophysiology and its treatment and to obtain an evidence-based view on pain and its treatment in the global human population and its age groups. The student will write a reflection after each attendance to a congress, workshop, course.