About the Study
Communication issues between patients and doctors can get in the way of patients getting the right care at the right time for their chronic pain problems. In this study, we are comparing two widely used approaches to foster patient-doctor communication: the use of reminders for doctors to start a conversation with their patients about pain care, and the use of education materials to help patients engage in an informed discussion with their doctors. Both methods are based on evidence, but they have never been compared to one another. For more information, visit this PCORI page about our study: link.
Clinical Decision Support
The Choosing Wisely campaign was started to help reduce waste in healthcare and prevent risks from unneeded medical care. To help reach this goal, national medical organizations created evidence-based recommendations. Cedars-Sinai has used more than 180 of these recommendations to create alerts within the hospital’s electronic health record.
One goal of the alerts is to improve opioid prescribing for chronic pain. The alerts help remind doctors to carefully look at opioid use, ask patients about quality of life, and think about alternative treatments, if appropriate. The reminders encourage doctors to talk with patients about the risks and benefits of opioids, which can improve shared decision-making and patient satisfaction.
Patient Education Materials
In this approach, patients receive educational tools and materials that are often used in chronic pain management. We call these materials “patient education and activation tools.” Studies have shown the effectiveness of such materials in improving patient-doctor communication.
These tools can help prepare patients for their visits and may also encourage doctors to have more meaningful conversations during appointments. The goal of this approach is to improve communication and shared decision-making. Achieving this goal depends on a two-way discussion of treatment objectives, preferences, and values between patients and doctors.
We're comparing two different approaches
Participants in this study were individuals who expressed interest in participating in a study about communication around chronic pain. All of our participants were over the age of 18 and were randomly assigned to our Clinical Decision Support group or the Patient Education Materials group. All participants had been prescribed pain medications for their pain, such as Vicodin, Percocet, or oxycodone and had a primary care provider that is a part of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Group.