Collaborative practice model for management of pain in patients with cancer

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The use of a collaborative drug therapy agreement (CDTA) by oncology pharmacists in a comprehensive pain clinic is described.


Recognizing the complex clinical services required by patients with cancer, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance began offering cancer pain management through a specialized pain service. Initially, the clinic was staffed by one attending physician; however, as the volume of patient referrals increased, the clinic expanded into an interprofessional team that includes physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, and pharmacists. Through an extensive credentialing process and under the guidance of a CDTA, pharmacists in the pain clinic are able to evaluate patients, develop treatment plans, and prescribe pain medication therapies for oncology patients. By having pharmacists provide these services, the pain clinic can improve medication dosing, ensure that medications are managed consistently, improve patients' quality of care, and save providers time by allowing tasks to be completed by appropriately trained ancillary staff. For cancer-related pain, the pharmacist, in conjunction with the attending provider, develops a pain medication plan following the principles of the World Health Organization's analgesic ladder. The pain clinic has implemented the routine use of several validated tools for screening and assessment of opioid risk as well as state guidelines for managing chronic opioid therapy. The pharmacists in the pain clinic also emphasize functional goals and improvement in functional status rather than complete relief of pain.


As members of an interprofessional pain clinic team, oncology pharmacists use their specialized knowledge of cancer and pharmacotherapy to help manage and treat pain in complex cancer cases.

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