Pain management services in palliative care: a national survey

Linklater, GT; Leng, MEF; Tiernan, EJJ; Lee, MA; Chambers, WA
September 2002
Palliative Medicine;Sep2002, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p435
Academic Journal
Introduction: The effective management of pain requires a multidisciplinary approach. Previous studies have suggested that around 8% of cancer patients will require interventional techniques from an anaesthetist with special interest in pain management to maximize pain control, although this percentage may increase in the cohort of patients with difficult pain syndromes under the care of specialist palliative care services. We wished to determine the experiences and views of other palliative care physicians with regard to input from specialists in pain management. Method: A postal questionnaire was sent to the consultant members of the Association of Palliative Medicine. Results: Most respondents had access to 'as-required' anaesthetist consultations with 72% of respondents feeling that the frequency of consultation was adequate. However, over half of the respondents had used the services of a pain management specialist less than four times in the past year and a quarter of respondents had not been involved in a joint consultation with an anaesthetist in the past year. All respondents felt that the pain management specialist's role included advice on technical procedures but less than 25% felt that their role should extend to advice on prescribing analgesics. Discussion: There are likely to be several reasons for this apparent underutilization of specialist anaesthetist/pain management services. This survey has identified possible factors including lack of formal arrangements, lack of suitable experience and the attitudes of palliative medicine consultants.


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