In recent years, multidisciplinary rehabilitation (MDR) became an alternative treatment option for chronic non-cancer pain. MDR is mostly available in specialized pain units, usually at rehabilitation centers where the level of knowledge and therapeutically options to treat pain conditions are considered to be high. There is strong evidence that MDR in specialized pain units is affecting pain and improves the quality of life in a sustainable manner. There are few studies about MDR outcome in primary health care, especially in those units situated in rural areas and with a different population than that encountered in specialized hospitals. That, in spite of the fact that the prevalence of pain in the patients treated in primary care practice is about 30%. The aim of this study is to analyze the effectiveness of MDR for chronic non-cancer patients in a primary health care unit.
This study included a total of 51 patients with chronic pain conditions who were admitted and completed the local MDR-program at the primary health care unit in Arvika, Sweden. The major complaint categories were fibromyalgia (53%), pain from neck and shoulder (28%) or low back pain (12%). The inclusion criteria were age between 16 and 67 years and chronic non-cancer pain with at least 3 months duration. The multidisciplinary team consisted of a general practitioner, two physiotherapists, two psychologists and one occupational therapist. The 6-week treatment took place in group sessions with 6–8 members each and included cognitive-behavioral treatment, education on pain physiology, ergonomics, physical exercises and relaxation techniques.
Primary outcomes included pain intensity, pain severity, anxiety and depression scores, social and physical activity, and secondary outcomes were sick leave, opioid consumption and health care utilization assessed in the beginning of the treatment and at one year follow-up. Data was taken from the Swedish Quality Register for Pain Rehabilitation (SQRP) and the patients’ medical journal.
One year after MDR treatment, sick leave decreased from 75.6% to 61.5% (p < 0.05). Utilization of health-care during one year decreased significantly from 27.4 to 20.1 contacts (p = 0.02). There were significant improvements concerning social activity (p = 0.03) and depression (p < 0.05), but not in anxiety (p = 0.1) and physical activity (p = 0.08). Although not statistically significant, some numerical decrease in the mean levels of pain intensity, pain severity and opioid consumption were reported one year after MDR (p > 0.05).
The results obtained one year after rehabilitation indicated that patients with chronic non-cancer pain might benefit from MDR in primary health care settings.
This study suggests that MDR in primary care settings as well as MDR at specialized pain units may lead to better coping in chronic non-cancer pain conditions with lower depression scores and higher social activity, leading to lower sick leave. This study demonstrated that there is a place for MDR in primary health care units with the given advantage of local intervention in rural areas allowing the patients to achieve rehabilitation in their home environment.
2013. Vol. 4, no 4, 190-197 p.