For Grace’s Women In Pain Education & Awareness Project
For Grace’s Women In Pain Project is an education and awareness campaign that aims to bring to light the disparity women face in the assessment and treatment of their pain conditions.
“Recognition. Respect. Relief”
*Empower women in pain to become better advocates for their pain care and well-being
*Sensitize healthcare providers to gender disparities in the assessment and management of women’s pain
*Enlighten public policy makers about pain as a major national health crisis
Why is the Women In Pain Project necessary?
Numerous studies in recent years have established that women are more likely to be undertreated for their pain. A comprehensive report published in 2001 in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics further concluded, “Women’s pain reports are taken less seriously than men’s, and women receive less aggressive treatment than men for their pain.” It added, “Women are more likely to have their pain reports discounted as ‘emotional’ or ‘psychogenic’ and, therefore, ‘not real.’”
According to the National Institutes of Health, women experience more pain (lower threshold and tolerance) than men and are more prone to chronic pain disorders such as fibromyalgia, pelvic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, complex regional pain syndrome, migraines, etc. Other research has concluded women are more likely to develop a chronic pain syndrome after experiencing trauma similar to that experienced by a man.
Many troubling paradoxes have emerged in regard to women and their pain management.
While women have a higher pain-related disorder prevalence, and are more biologically sensitive to pain, their pain reports are more likely to be dismissed and treatment delayed than their male counterparts.
Although women have more coping mechanisms to deal with pain, this may contribute to a general perception that they can put up with more pain and that their pain does not need to be taken as seriously.
Despite the fact that women more often and earlier report their pain to a heath care provider, they are more likely to have their pain characterized as having an “emotional” and “psychological” causation. Accordingly, they are often prescribed anti-depressants and sedatives, and given referrals for psychiatric counseling.
The effects of the above (and other) factors taken together are compounded by the inability and/or unwillingness of society, as a whole, to acknowledge the existence, persistence, and adverse impact of gender biases. Further, health care providers are woefully undereducated regarding pain and its management in general.
For Grace recognizes women of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds experience greater suffering from unrecognized, unacknowledged and untreated pain which leads to a wide range of negative psycho-socio-economic life disruptions. More specifically, the possibility of extensive harm to families and children is very real due to a woman’s traditional role as family caretaker and ever-increasing role as monetary provider.
Women In Pain program components:
The For Grace website is seen by more than 75,000 unique visitors annually and is complete with tools and resources to empower women to be better advocates for their pain management and wellness.
Archive of Resources and Research for Healthcare Professionals
We have gathered current, relevant medical research materials that support women are prone to chronic pain conditions, yet are underserved in their pain care compared to their males counterparts. These materials aim to educate healthcare professionals to this troubling fact.
Women In Pain Share Your Story Project
For Grace has assembled more than 50 powerful and provocative real-life stories that provide comfort, aid and hope to women in pain through narrative therapy.
Policy and Legislative Reform
In 2004, For Grace championed a California legislative informational hearing on the under-treatment of women in chronic pain (the first of its kind in the nation.) Also, we support policy initiatives that end barriers to pain care. One such action is being the lead sponsor for a California bill that would restrict Step Therapy, an unethical prescription practice used by the healthcare industry which delays care to pain patients.
Women In Pain Petition and Bill of Rights
Women in pain, their family and caregivers can sign this statement advocating for better pain care and compassion, while sharing a testimonial of their fight to gain adequate pain management
101 Ideas to Empower Women In Pain
For Grace has assembled these easy-to-do, empowering tools and resources to help women better manage their pain, improve their care and, ultimately, enhance the quality of their life.
Women In Pain Book Project
Our founder Cynthia Toussaint’s stirring memoir, Battle for Grace, chronicles her 30-year journey with the chronic pain experience. Told in unflinching style and content, Battle for Grace aims to start conversations about the unspoken aspects of living with pain, while showing a path to better wellness and personal triumph.
Annual Women In Pain Conference
On the heels of our inaugural conference in 2008, For Grace partnered with Healthy African American Families in 2009 to host this empowering, educational event at the California Science Center in Los Angeles - which was also webcast live worldwide. This year’s conference, our 6th annual, will be held at the California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities on September 13th, 2013.
The Wonder Music Project
Our founder, Cynthia Toussaint, has recorded her first CD - and this testament to the healing power of music therapy is dedicated to all women in pain. Dubbed “The Wonder Project”, this nine-song collection captures the challenge of the pain experience while conveying the joy of reinvention and better wellness.
ABC News, Discovery Health, New York Times, the UK/London Times, Woman’s Day and More magazine are just a few of the media sources we’ve generated features in that have brought pain care gender disparity awareness to millions around the world.
Women In Pain Advocacy Action Team
For Grace has assembled a team of leading pain experts who can speak about the gender disparity issue from a personal, clinical and research perspective.
Women In Pain public service announcement (featuring actor Jack Coleman, star of the hit TV shows “Dynasty” and “Heroes”)
Launched in June 2008, this attention-grabbing PSA which addresses the troubling issue that “women hurt more and are helped less” has reached tens of thousands worldwide via the Web.
Women In Pain Education & Awareness Project Accomplishments
For Grace founder & spokesperson, Cynthia Toussaint is now a consultant for ABC News and appeared on ABCNews.com and ABC World News NOW in October 2008
Produced our first Women In Pain public service announcement featuring actor Jack Coleman, star of TV dramas, “Dynasty” and “Heroes”; this PSA premiered at our inaugural Women In Pain conference and aired via the Internet starting June 2008
Went on-line with our 101 Ideas to Empower Women In Pain project that provided women suggestions and resources to improve well-being and enable self pain care
Hosted in partnership with the Southern California Cancer Pain Initiative and City of Hope National Cancer Center the first annual Women In Pain conference held in May 2008
For Grace founder’s story was a featured segment on Discovery Health “Mystery Diagnosis” which has aired continually worldwide since October 2005, reaching millions
For Grace founder’s story was featured in the March 2007 issue of Woman’s Day magazine (article titled, “My Mystery Disease”) - which was seen by 20 million readers
For Grace founder’s story was featured in the January/February 2009 issue of AARP The Magazine that reached 100 million readers with hardcopy.
Expanded our award-winning website, averaging over 10,000 unique visitors monthly
Championed September as Pain Awareness Month in California in conjunction with the national Partners for Understanding Pain project.
In 2011, sponsored a California Bill (AB 369) to abolish the “fail first” and “therapeutic switching” prescription practices that negatively impact pain patients.
In early 2004, For Grace founder, Cynthia Toussaint, championed the 1st-ever state legislative informational hearing that focused on the under-treatment of women and their pain conditions. To compliment this hearing, February was proclaimed Women In Pain Awareness Month in CA.
In mid-2007, For Grace expanded its mission to “ensure the ethical and equal treatment of all women in pain.” This effort launched the circulation of an on-line petition (which has gathered 6500+ signatures and testimonials) along with a Women In Pain Bill of Rights.
For Grace is currently engaged in two creative projects that will bring personal perspectives about the chronic pain experience to millions throughout the country and worldwide. Cynthia Toussaint is co-writing her memoir, “Battle for Grace”, with national best-selling author, Linden Gross. A movie adaptation of “Battle for Grace” is in the works and is being shopped by veteran producer Richard Freed (“Wildflower, “Sudie and Simpson”.)