Assessment of Adults Experiencing Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: A Randomized Trial of Group Versus Individual Format at an Australian Tertiary Pain Service

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Abstract

Objective.

To compare the outcomes of a new group assessment format with conventional individual assessment.

Design.

A randomized controlled trial.

Setting.

An Australian tertiary hospital multidisciplinary pain service.

Patients.

Adults referred with chronic non-cancer pain.

Methods.

Following attendance at an education and orientation group, 211 participants were randomized to either a group assessment format (focused on supported self-assessment) or individual assessment. Follow-up occurred 3 months post-assessment and prior to subsequent pain service intervention. Outcome measures were pain intensity, pain interference, self-efficacy, psychological distress, health care utilization beyond the pain service, waiting time, participant satisfaction, and implementation of self-management strategies.

Results.

Seventy-two participants undertook group assessment and 90 were assessed individually. Follow-up data were collected on 57 group and 72 individual assessment participants. Results revealed no significant differences between the two assessment formats in outcome with the exception of wait-times. Median wait-time to the first offer of assessment was 47 days for the group format and 144 days for individual.

Conclusions.

Group assessment provides a viable alternative to conventional individual assessment. The group assessment reduced wait-times while delivering otherwise comparable outcomes.

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