Decreased Clinic Use by Chronic Pain Patients Response to Behavioral Medicine Intervention

Margaret Caudill, M.D., Ph.D., Richard Schnable, Ph.D., Patricia Zuttermeister, M.A., Herbert Benson, M.D., Richard Friedman, Ph.D.
The Clinical Journal of Pain
7(4): p. 305-310

The treatment of chronic pain is costly and frustrating for the patient, health care provider, and health care system. This is due, in part, to the complexity of pain symptoms which are influenced by behavior patterns, socioeconomic factors, belief systems, and family dynamics as well as by physiological and mechanical components. Assessment of treatment outcomes is often limited to the patient’s subjective, multidimensional, self-reports. Outcome measures based on data about return to work or clinic use can provide more objective assessments of intervention benefits. In this study, a 36% reduction in clinic visits in the first year postintervention was found among the 109 patients who participated in an outpatient behavioral medicine program. Decreased clinic use continued in the first 50 patients followed 2 years postintervention. Decreased use projected to an estimated net savings of $12,000 for the first year of the study posttreatment and $23,000 for the second year.

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