Chronic Pain in the Emergency Department: A Pilot Interdisciplinary Program Demonstrates Improvements in Disability, Psychosocial Function, and Healthcare Utilization

Pain Res Manag. 2018 Jan 17;2018:1875967. doi: 10.1155/2018/1875967. eCollection 2018.


Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of an individualized interdisciplinary chronic pain care plan as an intervention to reduce emergency department (ED) visits and improve clinical outcomes among patients who frequented the ED with concerns related to chronic pain.

Methods: A prospective cohort design was used in an urban tertiary care hospital. As a pilot program, fourteen patients with chronic pain who frequented the ED (i.e., >12 ED visits within the last year, of which ≥50% were for chronic pain) received a rapid interdisciplinary assessment and individualized care plan that was uploaded to an electronic medical record system (EMR) accessible to the ED and patient's primary care provider. Patients were assessed at baseline and every three months over a 12-month period. Primary outcomes were self-reported pain and function assessed using psychometrically valid scales.

Results: Nine patients completed 12-month follow-up. Missing data and attrition were handled using multiple imputation. Patients who received the intervention reported clinically significant improvements in pain, function, ED visits, symptoms of depression, pain catastrophizing, sleep, health-related quality of life, and risk of future aberrant opioid use.

Discussion: Individualized care plans uploaded to an EMR may be worth implementing in hospital EDs for high frequency visitors with chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Catastrophization
  • Chronic Pain / complications*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Pain Management*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome