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Meeting high-risk patient pain care needs through intensive primary care: a secondary analysis.

Giannitrapani KF, Holliday JR, McCaa MD, Stockdale S, Bergman AA, Katz ML, Zulman DM, Rubenstein LV, Chang ET. Meeting high-risk patient pain care needs through intensive primary care: a secondary analysis. BMJ open. 2024 Jan 2; 14(1):e080748.

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OBJECTIVE: Chronic pain disproportionately affects medically and psychosocially complex patients, many of whom are at high risk of hospitalisation. Pain prevalence among high-risk patients, however, is unknown, and pain is seldom a focus for improving high-risk patient outcomes. Our objective is to (1) evaluate pain frequency in a high-risk patient population and (2) identify intensive management (IM) programme features that patients and providers perceive as important for promoting patient-centred pain care within primary care (PC)-based IM. DESIGN: Secondary observational analysis of quantitative and qualitative evaluation data from a multisite randomised PC-based IM programme for high-risk patients. SETTING: Five integrated local Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare systems within distinct VA administrative regions. PARTICIPANTS: Staff and high-risk PC patients in the VA. INTERVENTION: A multisite randomised PC-based IM programme for high-risk patients. OUTCOME MEASURES: (a) Pain prevalence based on VA electronic administrative data and (b) transcripts of interviews with IM staff and patients that mentioned pain. RESULTS: Most (70%, 2593/3723) high-risk patients had at least moderate pain. Over one-third (38%, 40/104) of the interviewees mentioned pain or pain care. There were 89 pain-related comments addressing IM impacts on pain care within the 40 interview transcripts. Patient-identified themes were that IM improved communication and responsiveness to pain. PC provider-identified themes were that IM improved workload and access to expertise. IM team member-identified themes were that IM improved pain care coordination, facilitated non-opioid pain management options and mitigated provider compassion fatigue. No negative IM impacts on pain care were mentioned. CONCLUSIONS: Pain is common among high-risk patients. Future IM evaluations should consider including a focus on pain and pain care, with attention to impacts on patients, PC providers and IM teams.

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