Telecare Intervention Improves Chronic Pain

Pain (Photo credit: Rickydavid)

A telephone-delivered intervention, which included automated symptom monitoring, produced clinically meaningful improvements in chronic musculoskeletal pain compared to usual care, according to a study in the July 16 issue of JAMA.

Pain is the most common symptom reported both in the general population and patients seen in primary care, the leading cause of work disability, and a condition that costs the United States more than $600 billion each year in health care and lost productivity. Musculoskeletal pain accounts for nearly 70 million outpatient visits annually in the United States each year. Telemedicine strategies for pain care have been proposed but not rigorously tested to date, according to background information in the article.

Kurt Kroenke, M.D., of Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indiana University School of Medicine, and the Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis, and colleagues randomly assigned 250 patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain to an intervention group (n = 124) or to a usual care group whose members received all pain care as usual from their primary care physicians (n = 126). The intervention group received 12 months of telecare management that included automated symptom monitoring with an algorithm-guided approach to optimizing pain medications.

Among the key results of the trial:

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