ADVOCACY TIPS FOR CHRONIC PAIN ADVOCATES - OUTREACH TO MEMBERS OF CONGRESS:
Important note: Postal mail is the slowest method to send a message to a Member’s DC office. All mail must be scanned offsite for security reasons, and it could take additional weeks to arrive. Most offices encourage constituents to send emails. Every member has a link on their website that allows you to submit email through their website. Those messages will be routed to a staffer who handles specific issues. Most offices track the number of emails they get about specific issues, so this outreach does matter!
Below is sample text that is intended to serve as guidance only. Sending a unique, personal note is the most effective way to advocate for yourself and other chronic pain patients. Form emails and emails that use almost identical text are not as effective and are more likely to be overlooked.
GENERAL SUGGESTIONS ABOUT TONE:
- Staffers on Capitol Hill are confronted with angry constituents on a regular basis. While some of this anger is justified across a wide range of issues, the tone of a constituent message may change what type of response is received.
- Your letter should include requests (not demands). The Member you are writing may not be aware of the issues you are raising. Allow them an opportunity to respond and meet with you to learn more.
- Do not include political generalizations – “All Democrats are wrong”, “All Republicans are wrong” or “President X is to blame”. Approach this is as a non-partisan issue that affects all Americans, regardless of how they vote.
- Know your audience. If the Member you are writing to has introduce prevention/recovery bill, recognize that you understand why they did so but ask they consider this additional angle in future opportunities. Disregarding their past efforts will not convince them to take on this cause.
- Speak from your perspective. If you are a patient, or family member, speak from your perspective and avoid speaking on behalf of doctors or other stakeholders. If you are doctor, speak generally about some of the challenges you have witnessed your patients endure through, but emphasize how the stigma of pain medication affects your role as a health care provider to chronic pain patients.
- Understand this communication will not be private. If you are not comfortable sharing high level of detail (specific diagnosis, etc), that is fine.
If you choose to send a letter via postal mail -
- Use your residential or business address. If you are writing a Representative, we recommend you verify you are in the Member’s district. As mentioned above, staff prioritize constituent inquiries.
- Be patient. It may take some time to receive the letter and they need time to respond. If your letter is addressing a time sensitive issue – like a bill heading to the floor for a vote, we strongly suggest you send an email or call the district or state office.