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Chronic pain patients who completed a comprehensive, multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation program used significantly fewer healthcare resources in a study presented at the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s 2018 annual meeting. The only exception was in behavioral health, in which access increased. Over the course of the 3-week program, patients with chronic (≥3 months) noncancer pain were able to access physical, occupational, and medical therapies and taper the doses of opioids prescribed to them. Researchers analyzed healthcare utilization before patients entered the program and at 3, 6, 12, and 18 months after. That analysis included data extracted from electronic health records of visits to urgent care, primary care, specialists, physical therapists, emergency rooms, and behavioral health (eg, social workers and psychologists). At all four timepoints, use of behavioral health resources increased while it decreased in every other setting. The researchers acknowledged that the size of the sample—just 25 patients—was a shortcoming but maintained that the results are significant.

Multidisciplinary Approach to Pain Lowers Utilization of Healthcare Resources