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    Assessment of suitable referral, effectiveness and long-term outcomes of standard vs intensive pain management programmes for people with chronic pain

    Hearn, Jasmine H, Martin, Sarah and Smith, Melanie (2023) Assessment of suitable referral, effectiveness and long-term outcomes of standard vs intensive pain management programmes for people with chronic pain. British Journal of Pain, 17 (1). pp. 71-86. ISSN 2049-4637

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    Background: Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability, often requiring multidisciplinary management. 2021 NICE guidance has questioned the quality of the evidence surrounding the efficacy of pain management programmes (PMPs), with only minor benefit demonstrated in psychological and physical outcomes. There is need for further high-quality evidence for the efficacy of PMPs for a range of chronic pain conditions and to identify barriers to successful management of chronic pain. Objective: This service evaluation utilised routinely collected outcome data of 508 PMP attendees to investigate change in pain- and patient-related outcomes across two distinct PMPs; a standard and an intensive PMP, and establish their longer-term efficacy and appropriateness for patients with differing degrees of need. Results: More people with chronic widespread pain, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis were referred to the intensive PMP (reflecting greater disability and distress in these conditions). Those referred to the intensive PMP demonstrated greater distress (such as more severe depression and anxiety), lower pain acceptance and poorer physical function. Improvements were observed in all outcomes across both PMPs (including physical function, pain catastrophising and pain acceptance). Depression and disability demonstrated clinically meaningful improvements in the intensive PMP, and pain severity showed clinically meaningful improvement in both PMPs. However, depression severity, disability, pain severity, and pain interference significantly deteriorated at 6-month follow-up for those on the intensive PMP, with pain severity increasing to a clinically meaningful degree (by more than 10%), though these outcomes remained better than at baseline. Conclusion: This evaluation identified that people with chronic pain most at risk of deterioration in physical and psychological wellbeing after completing a PMP require early identification to mitigate such deterioration. Established and emerging PMPs need to be tailored to the needs of this group, particularly at follow-up to reduce risks of pain severity increasing, alongside establishing/reinforcing safeguards against deterioration post-PMP.

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