Use of Self-management Interventions for Chronic Pain Management: A Comparison between Rural and Nonrural Residents

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Abstract

Individuals with chronic pain who live in rural communities often lack access to pain specialists and rely on primary care providers who may be less prepared. Research has indicated that rural residents with chronic pain are more likely to receive an opioid prescription than nonrural residents. Although self-management approaches are available for chronic pain management, it is unclear to what extent rural residents use these interventions. This study compares usage of self-management interventions and opioid-based analgesics for chronic pain management between rural and nonrural residents. This study is a secondary analysis of baseline data from a randomized controlled trial evaluating a telehealth intervention for chronic pain management. Participants, recruited from primary care clinics, were 65 rural residents and 144 nonrural residents with similar demographic characteristics. Differences in the use of self-management interventions, pain intensity, and opioid dose were evaluated between rural and nonrural residents. Rural residents (n = 50, 77%) were less likely to use self-management interventions compared with nonrural residents (n = 133, 92%) (p= .019). Opioids were taken for pain relief by 76% of the rural residents compared with 52% of the nonrural residents. A disparity exists in the use of self-management interventions for chronic pain management by rural residents compared with nonrural residents. Further study is needed to determine if this is related to the lack of access to specialists and/or pain management training of primary care providers. Nurses can play an essential role in addressing this disparity by educating patients about self-management interventions.

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