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Do pain specialists meet the needs of the referring physician? A survey of primary care providers

Jane R. Wilkens, MD, Miles J. Belgrade, MD

Abstract


Objective: To study the factors that influence the use of opioids in the management of chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) by primary care providers (PCPs) for patients returning from a pain specialist.
Design: A survey of PCPs.
Setting: Two physician groups in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.
Participants: Two seventy-six PCPs surveyed and 80 surveys returned.
Main outcome measures: Participants rated the importance of specific concerns regarding the role of pain specialists and the use of opioids in the management of CNCP. Past experience with pain specialists, comfort using opioids, and opinions regarding a trilateral opioid agreement were also examined.
Results: The top concerns for PCPs were as follows: the use of opioids in patients with chemical dependency or psychological issues, the escalation of opioid dosing, and the use of opioids in pain states without objective findings. They also ranked highly the importance of coordinating the return of patients from a pain specialist with explicit opioid instructions and the availability of consultation by phone or a timely follow-up visit. PCPs were supportive of the concept of a trilateral opioid agreement.
Conclusions: PCPs have significant concerns regarding the prescribing of opioids in CNCP. They desire closer collaboration with pain specialists, including more explicit plans of care when patients are transferred back to them. The trilateral agreement may provide one framework for better collaboration.

Keywords


opioids, primary care, chronic noncancer pain, trilateral agreement

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2008.0003

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