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      Different measures, different outcomes? Survey into the effectiveness of chronic pain clinics in a London tertiary referral center

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          Chronic pain clinics aim to improve challenging conditions, and although numerous studies have evaluated specific aspects of therapies and outcomes in this context, data concerning service impact on outcome measures in a general pain population are sparse. In addition, current trends in commissioning increasingly warrant services to provide evidence for their effectiveness. While a plethora of outcome measures, such as pain-intensity or improvement scores, exist for this purpose, it remains surprisingly unclear which one to use. It also remains uncertain what variables predict treatment success.


          This cross-sectional study was conducted to evaluate clinic performance employing different tools (pain scores, pain categories, responder analysis, subjective improvement, satisfaction), and to determine predictors of outcome measures.

          Patients and methods

          Patients attending scheduled clinic follow-up appointments were approached. They were asked to complete the modified short-form Brief Pain Inventory (BPI-SF) that also included assessments for satisfaction and subjective improvement. Comparisons were made with BPI-SF responses that were completed by each patient on admission. Nonparametric tests were employed to evaluate service impact and to determine predictors for outcome.


          Data of 118 patients were analyzed. There was considerable variation in impact of pain clinics depending on the outcome measure employed. While median pain scores did not differ between admission and follow-up, scores improved individually in 30% of cases, such that more patients had mild pain on follow-up than on admission (relative risk 2.7). Furthermore, while only 41% reported at least moderate subjective improvement after admission to the service, the majority (83%) were satisfied with the service. Positive treatment responses were predicted by “number of painful regions” and “changes in mood”, whereas subjective improvement was predicted by “helpfulness of treatments”.


          Depending on the outcome measure employed, pain clinics showed varying degrees of impact on patients’ pain experiences. This calls into question the current practice of using nonstandardized outcome reporting for evaluation of service performances.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Fibromyalgia: Moderate and substantial pain intensity reduction predicts improvement in other outcomes and substantial quality of life gain.

          Chronic pain is associated with a range of other problems, including disturbed sleep, depression, anxiety, fatigue, reduced quality of life, and an inability to work or socialise. We investigated whether good symptom control of pain (using definitions of moderate and substantial benefit) is associated with improvement in other symptoms. Individual patient data from four randomised trials in fibromyalgia (2575 patients) lasting 8-14weeks were used to calculate percentage pain reduction for each completing patient (1858), divided into one of five groups according to pain reduction, irrespective of treatment: substantial benefit - 50% pain reduction; moderate - 30% to <50%; minimal - 15% to <30%; marginal - 0% to <15%; worse - <0% (increased pain intensity). We then calculated change from baseline to end of trial for measures of fatigue, function, sleep, depression, anxiety, ability to work, general health status, and quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gain over a 12-month period. Substantial and moderate pain intensity reductions were associated with statistically significant reduction from baseline by end of trial in all measures, with values by trial end at or approaching normative values. Substantial pain intensity reduction resulted in 0.11 QALYs gained, and moderate pain intensity reduction in 0.07 QALYs gained over a 12-month period. Substantial and moderate pain intensity reduction predicts broad beneficial outcomes and improved quality of life that do not occur without pain relief. Pain intensity reduction is a simple and effective predictor of which patients should continue treatment, and which should discontinue and try an alternative therapy. Copyright 2010 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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            Equity and Excellence. Liberating the NHS

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              Interpreting the magnitudes of correlation coefficients.


                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                05 August 2015
                : 8
                : 477-486
                [1 ]Pain Medicine, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
                [2 ]Section of Anaesthetics, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Savan Shah, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Imperial College Road, London SW7 2AZ, UK, Tel +44 20 7589 5111, Email savan.shah09@ 123456imperial.ac.uk
                © 2015 Shah et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. 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


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