Establishment of personalized pain goals in oncology patients to improve care and decrease costs Journal Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: Cancer-related pain is common, negatively affects quality of life and survival, and often requires treatment with opioid analgesics. Patient-reported data that describe the incidence and severity of pain, medication use, and patient satisfaction with care are lacking. METHODS: We analyzed 18 months of outpatient oncology clinic encounters from the electronic medical record to obtain data on pain levels and opioid and nonopioid treatments. In June 2014, we instituted a pain intervention by creating a pain management information handout for patients, educating clinicians on opioid cost-effectiveness, and implementing a nursing protocol to document personalized pain goals (PPGs). RESULTS: Moderate to severe pain was reported in nearly 15% of patient encounters. We observed an increase in the percentage of encounters with a documented PPG of 16% to 71% ( P < .001). On average, PPG was achieved in 84% of patients. Rates of high-cost long-acting opioid prescriptions (oxycodone controlled release and fentanyl patches), as a total of all long-acting opioids, declined from 45% preintervention to 33% postintervention ( P = .005). CONCLUSION: Our intervention improved rates of PPG documentation and decreased the number of prescriptions for high-cost long-acting opioids. Oncology clinics can implement simple quality improvement methods, such as asking patients about their PPG and educating clinicians about opioid costs, to improve outcomes and lower treatment costs.

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publication date

  • 2017