AbstractBackground and aimsThe prevalence of pain in cancer patients are relatively high and indicate inadequate pain management strategies. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new methods and to improve implementation of guidelines to assess and treat pain. The vast improvement in information technology facilitated development of a computerized symptom assessment and decision support system (CCDS) - the Combat system - which was implemented in an outpatient cancer clinic to evaluate improvement in pain management.MethodsWe conducted a controlled before-and-after study between patient cohorts in two consecutive study periods: before (n = 80) and after (n = 134) implementation of the Combat system. Patients in the first cohort completed questionnaires with the paper-and-pencil method and this data was not shown to physicians. Patients in the latter cohort completed an electronic questionnaire by using an iPad and the data were automatically transferred and presented to physicians at point of care. Additionally, the system provided computerized decision support at point of care for the physician based on the electronic questionnaires completed by the patients, an electronic CRF completed by physicians and clinical guidelines.ResultsThe Combat system did not improve pain intensity and there were no significant alterations in the prescribed dose of opiates compared to the cohort of patients managed without the Combat system.ConclusionThe Combat system did not improve pain management. This may be explained by several factors, however, we consider lack of proper implementation of the CCDS in the clinic to be the most important factor. As a result, we did not manage to change the behaviour of the physicians in the clinic.ImplicationsThere is a need to conduct larger prospective studies to evaluate the efficacy of modern information technology to improve pain management in cancer patients. Before introducing new information technology in the clinics, it is important to have a well thought out implementation strategy. The trial is registered at Clinialtrials.gov, number NCT01795157.
Scandinavian Journal of Pain – de Gruyter
Published: Dec 29, 2017
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