Challenges in the clinical implementation of a biopsychosocial model for assessment and management of orofacial pain

Sonia Sharma, Matthew Breckons, Ben Brönnimann Lambelet, Jin Woo Chung, Thomas List, Frank Lobbezoo, Donald R. Nixdorf, Juan Fernando Oyarzo, Christopher Peck, Yoshihiro Tsukiyama, Richard Ohrbach

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Distress, suffering and care-seeking behaviour are characteristics of pain-related disease and illness. Pain that transitions from an acute to a chronic phase carries with it the potential of further effects: these include a worsening of the disease or illness; high-impact chronic pain; and substantial personal, societal and economic burden. The biopsychosocial model directly addresses these multiple processes, yet clinical frameworks supporting this model are not universally implemented. This paper explores barriers to clinical implementation of a full biopsychosocial framework for temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and other oro-facial pain (OFP) conditions. In June 2016, INfORM invited OFP researchers to a workshop designed to optimise the DC/TMD Axis-II. Workshop groups identified five sources of implementation barriers: (1) cultures and societies, (2) levels-of-care settings, (3) health services, (4) cross-cultural validity of self-report instruments and (5) provider and patient health literacy. Three core problems emerged: (A) mental health aspects are seldom fully considered, thus impairing the recognition of illness, (B) training in use of validated multi-axial assessment protocols is under-rated and insufficiently used, and (C) clinical assessment often fails to recognise that sensory and emotional dimensions are fundamental aspects of pain. To improve patient care, these barriers and problems require action. Most importantly, TMD/OFP educators and researchers need to coordinate globally and (i) be educated in the biopsychosocial model, (ii) implement evidence-based biopsychosocial guidelines for assessment and management of OFP conditions at their institutions, (iii) incorporate this model in undergraduate and postgraduate dental curricula and (iv) be responsive to stakeholders, including regulatory authorities and practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Oral Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • chronic pain
  • facial pain
  • surveys and questionnaires

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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