"The Pain Doesn't Have to Control You." A Qualitative Evaluation of Three Pain Clinics Teaching Nonopioid Pain Management Strategies

Author: Marc T Braverman1, Karen M Volmar2, Diana J Govier3
1 School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, 2694Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA.
2 Department of Health Policy and Management, 41474University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
3 VA HSR&D Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care, Portland, OR, USA.
Conference/Journal: Am J Health Promot
Date published: 2022 Sep 2
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/08901171221119799. , Word Count: 232

To explore factors related to effectiveness of nonpharmacological treatment for opioid-dependent patients suffering with chronic pain.

A qualitative study incorporating individual interviews and focus group interviews.

3 rural Oregon nonopioid pain management clinics.

A 10-week nonpharmacological educational program incorporating cognitive-behavioral therapy, movement therapy, mindfulness, and other skills.

Participants and methods:
Across sites, we conducted 9 individual interviews with clinic staff and 3 focus group interviews with 34 patients who had participated in the course. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes within and across respondent groups.

Analysis revealed 4 primary themes: program goals; program benefits; characteristics of patients who benefit from the program; coordination of clinic experiences with other care. Several primary findings can be highlighted. The clinics focused on improving patients' quality of life, while opioid use reduction was a potential secondary benefit, driven by patients. Major program benefits included enhanced pain self-management skills, patients' greater assertiveness in communications with healthcare providers, and, in numerous cases, opioid use reduction. Participants were unanimous that predisposition toward active self-management of one's pain was an essential factor for positive outcomes. Patients reported considerable variability in providers' understanding of their clinic participation.

Nonpharmacological approaches for treating chronic pain can be effective for many patients. Clinics teaching these approaches should be more fully integrated into the healthcare system.

Keywords: chronic pain; nonopioid pain treatment; nonopioid therapy; nonpharmacological pain treatment; pain management; qualitative research.

PMID: 36053192 DOI: 10.1177/08901171221119799