AbstractBackground and aimsPain is one of the most common reasons for patients to seek primary health care. Pain relief is likely to be achieved for patients suffering from acute pain, but for individuals with chronic pain it is more likely that the condition will persist. These patients have the option of being referred to specialised pain clinics. However, the complexity surrounding chronic pain patients is not well studied in these settings. This study aimed to describe patients with chronic pain referred to a pain clinic by using the information submitted during their first visit and one year later and also to identify associations between baseline characteristics and improvements in health-related quality of life in the follow-up.MethodsThis was a longitudinal observational study of a sample consisting of 318 patients referred to a pain clinic. One group of patients containing 271 individuals (median age 48, 64% females) was assessed and received conventional pain treatment (CPT group) and a second group of 47 patients (median age 53, 64% females) was assessed by a pain specialist and referred back to their physician with a treatment recommendation (assessment only, AO group). Patient-reported outcome measures in health-related quality of life (EQ-5D), pain intensity (VAS), mental health (HADS), insomnia (ISI), pain-related disability (PDI), kinesiophobia (TSK) and sense of coherence (SOC) were collected at the first visit and one year later.ResultsAt baseline, the CPT group reported a low EQ-5D Index (median (md) 0.157) and EQVAS (md 40) as well as considerable high, current pain intensity VAS (md 58), HADS anxiety (md 8), ISI (md 17), PDI (md 36) and TSK (md 39). The AO group showed similar problems (no significant differences compared to the CPT group), except for ISI, where the AO group reported less severe problems. At the one-year follow-up, the CPT group had a statistically significant improvement in EQ-5D, VAS, ISI, PDI and TSK. In the AO group no significant changes were observed. In the CPT group there was an association between a high ISI level at baseline and an improved EQ-5D Index in the follow-up.ConclusionsThe study describes rarely explored groups of patients with chronic pain at a pain clinic. Severe pain problems were present in both groups at their first visit. A statistically significant improvement could be seen in the group that was conventionally treated while this was not the case among those subjects who were assessed and referred. The results imply, that relatively limited treatment strategies were helpful for the patients’ health-related quality of life. Despite these improvements, the patients were not fully recovered, pointing to the chronicity of pain conditions and the need of support for many patients.ImplicationsIncreased knowledge about assessment, selection and treatment at pain clinics is important to improve the quality of the work performed at these clinics. Despite limited resources, further efforts should be made to collect comparable, valid data on a regular base from pain clinics in order to develop recommendation models.
Scandinavian Journal of Pain – de Gruyter
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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