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Telephone-based management of chronic pain in older adults in an integrated care program.

Helstrom A, Haratz J, Chen S, Benson A, Streim J, Oslin D. Telephone-based management of chronic pain in older adults in an integrated care program. International journal of geriatric psychiatry. 2018 May 1; 33(5):779-785.

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OBJECTIVE: Few studies have explored behavioral strategies for managing chronic pain in older adults. Pain Care Management (PCM) is a telephone-based behavioral intervention for chronic pain. The present study examined chronic pain characteristics among older adults and tested the delivery of PCM as an adjunct to depression and anxiety care management. METHODS: Participants were drawn from a state-sponsored program offering care management services to community members aged 65 and older who were prescribed a psychotropic medication by a primary care provider. Chronic pain information was collected for all participants in the state program (N  =  250) and treatment outcome data were collected for a subset with significant chronic pain. Eighty participants with high chronic pain interference were offered PCM and compared to 80 participants with chronic pain who received monitoring only on depression, anxiety, and pain interference outcomes. RESULTS: Chronic pain was identified in 14% of older adults newly prescribed a psychotropic medication. Compared to monitoring only, PCM participants had higher odds of seeing a reduction of 2 or more points in pain interference at 6 months. Pain care management participants' anxiety scores significantly decreased over the study period. CONCLUSIONS: Older adults treated with psychotropic medications often also experience chronic pain that interferes with daily activities. A telephone-based care management intervention is acceptable and feasible with an older community-based population and can lead to improvements in anxiety symptoms and interference from chronic pain. Further research will help to refine interventions that may help improve symptoms and increase functioning with this population.

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