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    Patient-provider communication vital for effective pain management

    The American Pain Foundation (APF) recently released survey results showing that 17% of adults with chronic pain who have tried to reach their primary pain-care providers with questions face difficulties doing so. The national survey, commissioned by APF and conducted in August online by Harris Interactive among 2,118 adults 18 years of age and older, of whom 619 currently live with chronic pain, also found that nearly half (43%) of those who have sought pain-treatment options had questions about their treatments after they left their providers’ office. Among these, the top 3 questions relate to treatment side effects (62%), duration of treatment (55%), and cost (41%). The survey data was released during Pain Awareness Month.

    “Concerns about side effects, how long to stay on a treatment, and affordability of care are all factors that play a role in treatment efficacy, adherence, and ultimately the success or failure of a pain treatment program,” said Micke A. Brown, BSN, RN, director of communications for the APF. “Consumers are bombarded with messages about speaking with their healthcare providers with questions. It’s imperative that people with pain who are under the care of a healthcare provider be able to easily access their providers when they have questions. Open lines of communication and trust between providers and their patients are critical in pain-management programs.”

    The survey found that of those who sought to contact their healthcare providers with questions about treatment, almost everyone (99%) eventually received a response, the same day (83%) or 1 day or more later (16%). Also, nearly everyone (98%) reported that the responses to their questions were “at least somewhat helpful.”

    However, 14% of adults living with chronic pain who have questions about their pain treatment have not tried to reach out to their providers. Reasons cited among these 52 people for not contacting their providers included: not wanting to “bother” their healthcare provider (11% of those surveyed); fear of looking like a “complainer” (8% of those surveyed); and fear of looking like a “drug seeker” or “drug addict” (7% of those surveyed).

    Information about pain and tools to help with healthcare provider communication are available at APF’s website, www.painfoundation.org. Additional information about pain-treatment safety for both consumers and healthcare providers is available at APF’s PainSAFE site, www.PainSafe.org.

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