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Identifying characteristics of the most severely impaired chronic pain patients treated at a specialized inpatient pain clinic
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences, Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Statistics.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences, Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care.
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2017 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, ISSN 1877-8860, E-ISSN 1877-8879, Vol. 17, no 1, p. 178-185Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background and aims: Patients suffering from chronic nonmalignant pain constitute a heterogeneous population in terms of clinical presentation and treatment results. Few data are available about what distinguishes different groups in this huge population of patients with chronic persistent pain (CPP). A subgroup that is poorly studied, consists of the most severely impaired chronic pain patients. At the Uppsala University Hospital Pain Clinic, there is a specialized department accepting the most complex patients for rehabilitation. In the endeavour to improve and evaluate treatment for this subgroup, a better understanding of the complex nature of the illness is essential. This prospective study aimed to describe the characteristics of this subgroup of patients with CPP.

Methods: Seventy-two consecutive patients enrolled in the Uppsala programme were evaluated. We collected data on demographics, type of pain and experienced symptoms other than pain using a checklist of 41 possible symptoms. Psychiatric comorbidity was assessed by a psychiatrist using a structured clinical interview. Quality of life (QoL), pain rating and medication/drug/alcohol usage were measured by validated questionnaires: SF-36, NRS, DUDIT and AUDIT. Concerning physical functioning and sick leave, a comparison was made with data from the Swedish Quality Register Registry for pain rehabilitation (SQRP).

Results: The cohort consisted of 61% women and the average age was 45 (range 20-70) years. For this cohort, 74% reported being on sick leave or disability-pension. In the SQRP 59% were on sick leave at the time they entered the rehabilitation programmes [1]. On average, the study-population reported 22 symptoms other than pain, to be at a high rate of severity. Patients treated in conventional pain rehabilitation programmes reported a mean of 10 symptoms in average. Symptoms reported with the highest frequency (>80%), were lethargy, tiredness, headache and difficulties concentrating. Seventysix percent were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. Sixty-nine fulfilled the criteria for depression or depression/anxiety disorder despite that most (65%) were treated with psychotropic medication. Alcohol/drug abuse was minimal. Seventy-one percent were on opioids but the doses were moderate (<100 mg) MEq. The pain rating was >= 7 (out of a maximum of 10) for 60% of the patients.

Conclusion: This study describes what makes the subgroup of pain patients most affected by their pain special according to associated factors and comorbidity We found that they were distinguished by a high degree of psychiatric comorbidity, low physical functioning and extreme levels of symptom preoccupation/hypervigilance. Many severe symptoms additional to pain (e.g. depression/anxiety, tiredness, disturbed sleep, lack of concentration, constipation) were reported. The group seems hypervigilant, overwhelmed with a multitude of different symptoms on a high severity level.

Implications: When treating this complex group, the expressions of the illness can act as obstacles to achieve successful treatment outcomes. The study provides evidence based information, for a better understanding of the needs concerning these pain patients. Our result indicates that parallel assessment and treatment of psychiatric comorbidities and sleep disorders combined with traditional rehabilitation, i.e. physical activation and cognitive reorganization are imperative for improved outcomes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
WALTER DE GRUYTER GMBH , 2017. Vol. 17, no 1, p. 178-185
Keywords [en]
Characterization of patients with severe, chronic persistent pain, Subgrouping patients with chronic, persistent pain, Severely impaired patients with chronic, pain, Psychiatric comorbidity, Physical dysfunction, Systemic symptoms other than pain
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-341827DOI: 10.1016/j.sjpain.2017.09.008ISI: 000419851500030PubMedID: 29032350OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-341827DiVA, id: diva2:1183004
Available from: 2018-02-15 Created: 2018-02-15 Last updated: 2018-02-15Bibliographically approved

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Hysing, Eva-BrittSmith, LenaEriksson, MånsKarlsten, RolfButler, StephenGordh, Torsten

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Anaesthesiology and Intensive CareDepartment of Surgical SciencesDepartment of Statistics
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Scandinavian Journal of Pain
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