Reducing Chronic Pain Patient Vulnerability by Enhancing Communication

Incorporating shared decision-making techniques into chronic pain treatment selection is integral to success.

Much of the failure of US pain management centers around inadequate provider-patient relationships; therefore, enhancing communication with patients is a key starting point.

Michael E. Schatman, PhD, executive director of the Foundation for Ethics in Pain Care in Bellevue, Washington, shared his advice with clinicians about enhancing communication at a session held during PAINWeek 2015. 

“Relationships between those who treat chronic pain and their patients tend to be strained and patient trust is often diminished, thus exacerbating their sense of vulnerability,” Dr. Schatman said. “Improving provider-patient communication reduces vulnerability …. and enhances outcomes.”

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Dr. Schatman noted that there are many obstacles to treating patients with pain successfully. 

“There were once two players in chronic pain management: the patient and the physician,” Dr. Schatman said. However, other stakeholders now influence how these patients are managed, including insurance, pharmaceutical, hospital, medical device, and urine drug testing industries; attorneys; state medical boards; and, he noted, even the US Drug Enforcement Agency.  Media coverage has also changed the way some patients with chronic pain are being treated, he said. 

Despite these changes to the manner in which patients with pain are being treated, he assured the audience that “the obstacles can be overcome” by implementing several strategies, including shared decision making with the patient.

This article originally appeared on MPR