'The Doctor doesn't need to see you now': reduction in general practice appointments following group pain management.
Background: Patients living with chronic, non-malignant, musculoskeletal pain are frequent visitors to general practice (GP) services, placing a large burden on resources. Pain management programmes (PMPs) are recommended for chronic pain patients and aim to teach self-management techniques. While there is evidence for their clinical effectiveness, few studies have explored whether there is a reduction in primary care healthcare use after attending a PMP. Aim: This study sought to address this by gathering data on pain-related primary care appointments before and after attending a PMP. Design and setting: Medical records of 50 patients attending a group outpatient PMP were obtained to determine whether the number of pain-related GP appointments differed 1 year after attending the programme compared with the year beforehand. Robust data were obtained from GP appointment systems and a retrospective observational design was utilised. Results: The results indicated a 43.9% decrease in the number of GP appointment in the year following a PMP, a change that was statistically significant. Conclusion: The findings of the study show that there are fewer pain-related appointments in primary care in the year following a group outpatient PMP compared with the preceding year. It is possible that the self-management techniques taught on the programme lead to a reduction in patient's need to consult their GP as frequently about their pain. However, limitations in the current research mean that the reduction in appointments cannot be definitively attributed to PMP attendance and suggestions for future research are discussed.
- Specialist Medicine