Challenges in accessing multidisciplinary pain treatment facilities in Canada

Can J Anaesth. 2007 Dec;54(12):977-84. doi: 10.1007/BF03016631.


Purpose: The objective of this survey was to examine the services offered by multidisciplinary pain treatment facilities (MPTFs) across Canada and to compare access to care at these MPTFs.

Methods: A MPTF was defined as a clinic that advertised specialized multidisciplinary services for the diagnosis and management of patients with chronic pain, having a minimum of three different health care disciplines (including at least one medical speciality) available and integrated within the facility. The search method included approaching all hospital and rehabilitation centre administrators in Canada, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board or similar body in each province. Designated investigators were responsible for confirming and supplementing MPTFs from the preliminary list for each province. Administrative leads at each eligible MPTF were asked to complete a detailed questionnaire regarding their MPTF infrastructure, clinical, research, teaching and administrative activities.

Results: Completed survey forms were received from 102 MPTFs (response rate 85%) with 80% concentrated in major cities, and none in Prince Edward Island and the Territories. The MPTFs offer a wide variety of treatments including non-pharmacological modalities such as interventional, physical and psychological therapy. The median wait time for a first appointment in public MPTFs is six months, which is approximately 12 times longer than non-public MPTFs. Eighteen pain fellowship programs exist in Canadian MPTFs and 64% engage in some form of research activities

Conclusion: Canadian MPTFs are unable to meet clinical demands of patients suffering from chronic pain, both in terms of regional accessibility and reasonable wait time for patients' first appointment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Chronic Disease
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Clinics / organization & administration
  • Pain Clinics / supply & distribution*
  • Pain Management*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Waiting Lists
  • Workload