://module2 The WHO method                                       page 1/9

This module covers the WHO approach and its use in cancer pain management. The WHO method [1] for cancer pain management is a standardized approach to pain management that is used throughout the world. We will look at the different steps of the ladder, and the recommendations for prescribing at each stage.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module you should be able to

  • List the five principles of drug therapy in cancer pain management according to the WHO method.
  • Draw a diagram showing the steps in the WHO pain ladder
  • Name classes of drugs used in each step of the ladder
  • Name individual drugs within each class
  • State typical dosages of the more common drugs
  • State the indications for moving up or down a step in the ladder


[1] World Health Organization.
Cancer pain relief and palliative care. Report of a WHO expert committee [World Health Organization Technical Report Series, 804] . Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 1990. p. 1-75



Last updated September 2004 ------------------------