Monitoring outcomes during long-term opioid therapy for noncancer pain: Results with the Pain Assessment and Documentation Tool
Keywords:opioids, noncancer pain, assessment, documentation, outcomes
AbstractThe increasingly common practice of long-term opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain must be guided by ongoing assessment of four types of outcomes: pain relief, function, side effects, and drug-related behaviors. Our objective was to gather initial pilot data on the clinical application of a specialized chart note, the Pain Assessment and Documentation Tool (PADT), which was developed and tested with 27 physicians. This pilot test provided the means to collect cross-sectional outcome data on a large sample of opioid-treated chronic pain patients. Each of the physician volunteers (located in a variety of settings across the United States) completed the PADT for a convenience sample of personally treated chronic pain patients who had received at least three months of opioid therapy. Completion of the PADT required a clinical interview, review of the medical chart, and direct clinical observation. Data from the PADTs were collated and analyzed. The results suggested that the majority of patients with chronic pain achieve relatively positive outcomes in the eyes of their prescribing physicians in all four relevant domains with opioid therapy. Analgesia was modest but meaningful, functionality was generally stabilized or improved, and side effects were tolerable. Potentially aberrant behaviors were common but viewed as an indicator of a problem (i.e., addiction or diversion) in only approximately 10 percent of cases. Using the PADT, physician ratings can be developed in four domains. In this sample, outcomes suggested that opioid therapy provided meaningful analgesia.
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