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      Are patients’ and doctors’ accounts of the first specialist consultation for chronic back pain in agreement?

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          Abstract

          Introduction

          The first consultation at a specialist pain clinic is potentially a pivotal event in a patient’s pain history, affecting treatment adherence and engagement with longer term self-management. What doctors communicate to patients about their chronic pain and how patients interpret doctors’ messages and explanations in pain consultations are under-investigated, particularly in specialist care. Yet, patients value personalized information about their pain problem.

          Patients and methods

          Sixteen patients in their first specialist pain clinic consultation and the doctors they consulted were interviewed shortly after the consultation. Framework analysis, using patient themes, was used to identify full match, partial match, or mismatch of patient–doctor dyads’ understandings of the consultation messages.

          Results

          Patients and doctors agreed, mainly implicitly, that medical treatment aiming at pain relief was primary and little time was devoted to discussion of self-management. Clinically relevant areas of mismatch included the explanation of pain, the likelihood of medical treatments providing relief, the long-term treatment plan, and the extent to which patients were expected to be active in achieving treatment goals.

          Discussion

          Overall, there appears to be reasonable concordance between doctors and patients, and patients were generally satisfied with their first consultation with a specialist. Two topics showed substantial mismatch, the estimated likely outcome of the next planned intervention and, assuming (as doctors but not patients did) that this was unsuccessful, the long-term treatment plan. It appeared that more complex issues often generate divergence of understanding or agreement. Despite the widespread recommendations to medical practitioners to check patients’ understanding directly, it does not appear to be routine practice.

          Conclusion

          It is hoped that this research encourages more detailed examination of shared and divergent experiences of pain consultations and also their influence on the subsequent course of intervention and adherence to treatment (not addressed here).

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          Most cited references 39

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          Qualitative evaluation andresearch methods

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            Which chronic conditions are associated with better or poorer quality of life?

            The objective of the present study is to compare the QL of a wide range of chronic disease patients. Secondary analysis of eight existing data sets, including over 15,000 patients, was performed. The studies were conducted between 1993 and 1996 and included population-based samples, referred samples, consecutive samples, and/or consecutive samples. The SF-36 or SF-24 were employed as generic QL instruments. Patients who were older, female, had a low level of education, were not living with a partner, and had at least one comorbid condition, in general, reported the poorest level of QL. On the basis of rank ordering across the QL dimensions, three broad categories could be distinguished. Urogenital conditions, hearing impairments, psychiatric disorders, and dermatologic conditions were found to result in relatively favorable functioning. A group of disease clusters assuming an intermediate position encompassed cardiovascular conditions, cancer, endocrinologic conditions, visual impairments, and chronic respiratory diseases. Gastrointestinal conditions, cerebrovascular/neurologic conditions, renal diseases, and musculoskeletal conditions led to the most adverse sequelae. This categorization reflects the combined result of the diseases and comorbid conditions. If these results are replicated and validated in future studies, they can be considered in addition to information on the prevalence of the diseases, potential benefits of care, and current disease-specific expenditures. This combined information will help to better plan and allocate resources for research, training, and health care.
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              Imaging strategies for low-back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis.

              Some clinicians do lumbar imaging routinely or in the absence of historical or clinical features suggestive of serious low-back problems. We investigated the effects of routine, immediate lumbar imaging versus usual clinical care without immediate imaging on clinical outcomes in patients with low-back pain and no indication of serious underlying conditions. We analysed randomised controlled trials that compared immediate lumbar imaging (radiography, MRI, or CT) versus usual clinical care without immediate imaging for low-back pain. These trials reported pain or function (primary outcomes), quality of life, mental health, overall patient-reported improvement (based on various scales), and patient satisfaction in care received. Six trials (n=1804) met inclusion criteria. Study quality was assessed by two independent reviewers with criteria adapted from the Cochrane Back Review Group. Meta-analyses were done with a random effects model. We did not record significant differences between immediate lumbar imaging and usual care without immediate imaging for primary outcomes at either short-term (up to 3 months, standardised mean difference 0.19, 95% CI -0.01 to 0.39 for pain and 0.11, -0.29 to 0.50 for function, negative values favour routine imaging) or long-term (6-12 months, -0.04, -0.15 to 0.07 for pain and 0.01, -0.17 to 0.19 for function) follow-up. Other outcomes did not differ significantly. Trial quality, use of different imaging methods, and duration of low-back pain did not affect the results, but analyses were limited by small numbers of trials. Results are most applicable to acute or subacute low-back pain assessed in primary-care settings. Lumbar imaging for low-back pain without indications of serious underlying conditions does not improve clinical outcomes. Therefore, clinicians should refrain from routine, immediate lumbar imaging in patients with acute or subacute low-back pain and without features suggesting a serious underlying condition.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                1178-7090
                2016
                28 November 2016
                : 9
                : 1109-1120
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
                [2 ]School of Life and Medical Sciences, University College London
                [3 ]Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London, London, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Amanda C de C Williams, Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK, Tel +44 20 7679 1608, Fax +44 20 7916 1989, Email amanda.williams@ 123456ucl.ac.uk
                Article
                jpr-9-1109
                10.2147/JPR.S119851
                5135477
                © 2016 White 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.

                Categories
                Original Research

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