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      Health care utilization by veterans prescribed chronic opioids

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          Ambulatory resources such as telephone calls, secure messages, nurse visits, and telephone triage are vital to the management of patients on chronic opioid therapy (COT). They are also often overlooked as health care services and yet to be broadly studied. The aim of the present study was to describe the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care utilization by patients based on COT, type, and amount of opioids prescribed.

          Patients and methods

          A retrospective chart review was done on 617 patients on COT at a VA primary care clinic. Instances of health care utilization (emergency department visits [EDVs], hospitalizations, clinic visits, telephone triage calls, telephone calls/secure messages/nurse visits) were obtained.


          Patients were likely to have more telephone calls, secure messages, or nurse visits if they were prescribed a schedule II opioid or if they were on more than one opioid. Model-based results found that patients on COT were more likely to have EDVs, telephone triage calls, and clinic contact compared to patients who were not on chronic opioids.


          The results are despite having a Patient Aligned Care Team, which is the VA’s patient-centered medical home. This suggests that reducing health care utilization for patients on COT may not be possible with just a primary care involvement.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Sixty-five studies that evaluated the efficacy of multidisciplinary treatments for chronic back pain were included in a meta-analysis. Within- and between-group effect sizes revealed that multidisciplinary treatments for chronic pain are superior to no treatment, waiting list, as well as single-discipline treatments such as medical treatment or physical therapy. Moreover, the effects appeared to be stable over time. The beneficial effects of multidisciplinary treatment were not limited to improvements in pain, mood and interference but also extended to behavioral variables such as return to work or use of the health care system. These results tend to support the efficacy of multidisciplinary pain treatment; however, these results must be interpreted cautiously as the quality of the study designs and study descriptions is marginal. Suggestions for improvement in research designs as well as appropriate reports of research completed are provided.
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              A cross-national study of the course of persistent pain in primary care.

              Data from the World Health Organization's study of psychological problems in general health care were used to examine the course of persistent pain syndromes among primary care patients. Across 15 sites in 14 countries, 3197 randomly selected primary care patients completed baseline and 12-month follow-up assessments of pain, other somatic symptoms, and anxiety and depressive disorders (the Composite International Diagnostic Interview), and an assessment of occupational role disability (the Social Disability Schedule). Of patients with a persistent pain condition at baseline, 49% had not recovered 12 months later. The probability of non-recovery varied significantly across study centers and was significantly associated with the number of pain sites at baseline. After adjustment for age, sex, and study center, baseline anxiety or depressive disorder did not predict non-recovery of persistent pain. Among those without a persistent pain disorder at baseline, the rate of onset was 8.8% with a significant variability in risk across centers. The baseline characteristics predicting the onset of persistent pain disorder were psychological disorder, poor self-rated health, and occupational role disability. A persistent pain disorder at baseline predicted the onset of a psychological disorder to the same degree that a baseline psychological disorder predicted the subsequent onset of persistent pain. Persistent pain conditions are common among primary care patients, and the probability of resolution over 12 months is approximately 50%. We found a strong and symmetrical relationship between persistent pain and psychological disorder. Impairment of daily activities appears to be a central component of that relationship.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                10 September 2018
                : 11
                : 1779-1787
                [1 ]Clement J Zablocki - Department of Medicine, ckay@ 123456mcw.edu
                [2 ]Center for Patient Care and Outcomes Research, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA, ckay@ 123456mcw.edu
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Cynthia Kay, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 W Watertown Plank Road (CAP), Milwaukee WI 53226, USA, Email ckay@ 123456mcw.edu
                © 2018 Kay et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                chronic pain, primary care, veterans affairs, opioids


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