Fueled by a $2 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, researchers at Cedars-Sinai are launching a study investigating the best ways for physicians to discuss opioid use among patients experiencing chronic pain.

“Our study will test whether we can use the electronic health record to disrupt how pain treatments are discussed and managed between patients and providers, with the goal of reducing inappropriate overuse of opioids,” says lead investigator Brennan M. Spiegel, MD, director of Health Services Research at Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai, in a media release.

The investigators will spend 1 year working with patients, consumer advocates, addiction specialists, and primary care providers to compare the effectiveness of two established communication strategies used by physicians who treat chronic pain patients.

Some of the patients will receive educational material prior to their office visits; while with other patients, computer alerts will alert physicians to speak with them prior to renewing their opioid prescriptions.

Investigators will survey all patients one month after their visits to gauge their quality of life, overall health (including pain, fatigue, energy and concentration), and how well the communications with their doctors have worked. The study also will capture pain medication use through electronic health record details and pharmaceutical claims data, the release states.

“Incorporating patients’ perspectives into the study design ensures that the findings will be relevant to real people in general medical practices, and not just some highly selected sample,” says Itai Danovitch, MD, MBA, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and director of Addiction Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai.

“The focus on assessing ‘quality of life’ means that the study will extend beyond evaluating symptoms and will tell us whether the interventions impact health in a way that patients themselves find meaningful,” Danovitch adds.

[Source(s): Cedars-Sinai, Newswise]