Electronic data joins the fight against persistent pain

NSW Health has launched an electronic Persistent Pain Outcomes Collaboration (ePPOC) benchmarking exercise to help analyse which treatments are the most effective for the one in five Australians with persistent (chronic) pain.

Ten public hospitals in NSW along with several hospitals in other states are taking part in the pilot project, which will enable benchmarking of the treatment approaches which are used by different pain centres and clinics throughout Australia.

The ePPOC project will collect and analyse data on how patients’ function improves during their treatment process.

Elizabeth Carrigan, CEO of the Australian Pain Management Association (APMA), said evidence-based treatment is always the most effective in managing persistent pain.

“ePPOC will assist pain specialists to understand effective pain management treatments and how they can best be used to help their patients to regain their quality of life,” Ms Carrigan said.

“Particularly, the data will assist in understanding how self-management approaches develop the knowledge, skills and confidence for individuals to tackle pain on an ongoing basis, helping them to become independent again.”

The data for the ePPOC project will be submitted electronically by participating pain clinics at three-monthly intervals to a team at the University of Wollongong (UOW). The UOW team, which has extensive experience in developing and managing national benchmarking systems, will analyse the data and then make it available to pain centres and medical practitioners.

Outcomes data for rehabilitation and palliative care has been collected and national benchmarking to improve clinical outcomes is underway.

Just as pain can be caused by a number of different factors such as illness, injury or surgery, different treatments work best for different people. Currently, GPs and pain specialists must use their individual knowledge and clinical experience to create pain management plans for their patients.

The organisers of the ePPOC project hope it will provide practitioners with the most accurate, evidence-based collective data from pain clinics around Australia. This will enable medical practitioners to provide the best possible short-term and ongoing pain-management care for their patients.

By comparing patient outcomes from different public and private facilities throughout Australia, the ePPOC project will facilitate understanding of best practice in pain management.

It will analyse improvements in specific physical and psychological areas, including physical function, psychological distress and pain catastrophising, in both children and adults with persistent pain. Project researchers expect that several thousand people will be represented through the project by the end of 2013.

“APMA has always encouraged people with persistent pain to work with a team of medical professionals to develop an ongoing self-management plan for their persistent pain,” Ms Carrigan said.

“This team typically includes a GP, physiotherapist and psychologist and may include other specialists as well, such as an exercise physiologist, nutritionist or occupational therapist.

“The ePPOC project will equip not only pain clinics to help patients to develop initial skills, but will provide information to support practice development over time. By its very nature, persistent pain often continues for years, so people need a long-term management strategy.”

The ePPOC project is funded by NSW Health as a key component of the NSW government’s Pain Plan and is an initiative of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation. The ACI's pain management network played a pivotal role in the development of the plan, which will see NSW Health contribute $26 million over the next four years to support the development of new pain management services in regional areas, to enhance existing teaching hospital services and to support research into persistent pain.

The Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) at the University of Wollongong is running the project, led by its director, Kathy Eagar.

ePPOC researchers hope that interest will grow during the next few years, with more public and private pain clinics throughout Australia and New Zealand signing up to participate.

Karyn Markwell is the media manager for the Australian Pain Management Association.

Posted in Allied Health


0 # Brad 2013-11-06 17:25
I have been to pain management in nambour Queensland what was a 4 day course was shortened to a two day course th information provided was skeptical at best with the head of the department stating medication will kill you eventually . I was wondering how a science lesson can ever help you people need to stop all the crap and help out with a treatment plan , maby a physio thats hands on 5 different stretches will NOT help everyone . Stop treating pain patients like they have a mental illness and do something .
0 # Brad 2013-11-06 18:00
your spending 26 million dollars . i have read your above policy and i'm afraid you don't state what the professional team will be doing develop skills in other words learn how to suck it up so you don't end up clogging up the er . Take it from me i have spoken to six different chronic pain people and they all say pain management is a joke a wast of government money why dont you ask us what we need instead you create stupid course that will never serve any purpose .
0 # Suze 2013-11-06 21:07
Brad! Your experience mirrors mine to a tee. I could have written what you wrote. Not everyone can live in constant pain, do a few stretches,and not take any meds.
Pain management clinics are an oxymoron. They are a joke.I am sick of being treated as though I have a mental illness instead of my reality which is a back crumbling like a piece of Stilton cheese.
0 # Brad 2013-11-13 09:34
Quoting Suze:
Brad! Your experience mirrors mine to a tee. I could have written what you wrote. Not everyone can live in constant pain, do a few stretches,and not take any meds.
Pain management clinics are an oxymoron. They are a joke.I am sick of being treated as though I have a mental illness instead of my reality which is a back crumbling like a piece of Stilton cheese.

Just wish those pencil pushing wankers would wake up and do something useful with tax payers money one day they will find a solution to pain and they will be out of a job . I even had someone telling me to concentrate on a sultana for a distraction exercise . well done nambour hospital .
0 # Ross 2013-11-19 14:49
I had the misfortune to register for methadone in the 1970s,Id never taken any other drug before so it was out of curiosity I suppose being young and stupid.After all it was only a medicine so what harm could that do?I experimented with every drug known to man for a few years then gave it a complete miss.(been there done that) 20+ years later I was involved in an accident and was left with back pain, neck pain and headaches.I waited 18 months to see a pain specialist and traveled 800km to be told I didn't have an appointment? The receptionist was openly hostile towards me,which I can only put down to my previous methadone use.I made another appointment eventually after a lot of obstruction and hassles and another 18 months later and a 800km trip to get there I finally got to see the doctor who treated me like I was a drug addict and dismissed me offhand.. I thought that I had encountered a doctor with a chip on his shoulder but after being referred a further 3 times to pain management over the years I have had the same outcome every time? The only thing I could do was go on the methadone program for drug addicts that I had unwittingly registered 40+ years previous.So now because of the stigma attached to methadone treatment and the travel restrictions because of the limited take away doses I have had to close down my business leaving people unemployed including myself. So instead of paying tax I'm now an invalid pensioner living alone with depression. I sometimes wonder at the true cost of the present policy not just in the monetary value that I suspect will be astronomical but in the cost to society and peoples lives from the trickle down affect. If we could stop following the failed policy's of the united states and had the political will for reform in this area,it would be a big step for common sense and the good of all.

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