At pain clinic, treatment expectations of patients and physicians focus on relief

The number one thing that patients visiting a pain clinic hope for is relief from their pain, according to a study that compared the treatment expectation of both patients and physicians.

The study, published in Pain Practice, found there are similarities in expectations and goals for patients and physicians for pain clinic visits. Researchers from the University Hospital Limerick in Ireland, asked 100 patients attending a pain clinic for the first time to complete a questionnaire about their expectations and what outcomes would satisfy and disappoint them. Ten physicians also completed the questionnaires.

Patients' expectations included pain relief (34 percent), education on the cause of their pain (24 percent) and a definitive diagnosis (18 percent). Physicians expected to create and communicate a pain management plan (70 percent), conduct a patient assessment for the cause of pain (50 percent) and educate the patient on the cause of pain (40 percent).

Pain relief was the common goal, with the majority of patients (74 percent) and physicians (70 percent) saying that would be a satisfactory outcome. Patients said they would be most disappointed if there was no improvement in their pain, while physicians said they be disappointed if they caused more harm.

"While some encouraging similarities in expectations and future goals exist, there is much discordance between patients and physicians which has the potential to damage interpersonal relationships and hamper medical outcomes," the researchers said.

The study comes at a time when U.S. physicians are being asked to consider alternatives to medications to treat patients' pain. In the face of a nationwide opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released strict new guidelines in March for primary care clinicians advising them to prescribe treatments other than opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care.

To learn more:
- find the study abstract