HSR&D Citation Abstract
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Association Between Facility-Level Utilization of Non-pharmacologic Chronic Pain Treatment and Subsequent Initiation of Long-Term Opioid Therapy.
Carey EP, Nolan C, Kerns RD, Ho PM, Frank JW. Association Between Facility-Level Utilization of Non-pharmacologic Chronic Pain Treatment and Subsequent Initiation of Long-Term Opioid Therapy. Journal of general internal medicine. 2018 May 1; 33(Suppl 1):38-45.
Expert guidelines recommend non-pharmacologic treatments and non-opioid medications for chronic pain and recommend against initiating long-term opioid therapy (LTOT).
We examined whether veterans with incident chronic pain receiving care at facilities with greater utilization of non-pharmacologic treatments and non-opioid medications are less likely to initiate LTOT.
Retrospective cohort study PARTICIPANTS: Veterans receiving primary care from a Veterans Health Administration facility with incident chronic pain between 1/1/2010 and 12/31/2015 based on either of 2 criteria: (1) persistent moderate-to-severe patient-reported pain and (2) diagnoses "likely to represent" chronic pain.
The independent variable was facility-level utilization of pain-related treatment modalities (non-pharmacologic, non-opioid medications, LTOT) in the prior calendar year. The dependent variable was patient-level initiation of LTOT ( = 90 days within 365 days) in the subsequent year, adjusting for patient characteristics.
Among 1,094,569 veterans with incident chronic pain from 2010 to 2015, there was wide facility-level variation in utilization of 10 pain-related treatment modalities, including initiation of LTOT (median, 16%; range, 5-32%). Veterans receiving care at facilities with greater utilization of non-pharmacologic treatments were less likely to initiate LTOT in the year following incident chronic pain. Conversely, veterans receiving care at facilities with greater non-opioid and opioid medication utilization were more likely to initiate LTOT; this association was strongest for past year facility-level LTOT initiation (adjusted rate ratio, 2.10; 95% confidence interval, 2.06-2.15, top vs. bottom quartile of facility-level LTOT initiation in prior calendar year).
Facility-level utilization patterns of non-pharmacologic, non-opioid, and opioid treatments for chronic pain are associated with subsequent patient-level initiation of LTOT among veterans with incident chronic pain. Further studies should seek to understand facility-level variation in chronic pain care and to identify facility-level utilization patterns that are associated with improved patient outcomes.