Further effort is needed to improve management of chronic pain in primary care. Results from the Arkys project

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Gaetano Piccinocchi *
Roberto Piccinocchi
(*) Corresponding Author:
Gaetano Piccinocchi | gpiccino@tin.it

Abstract

Treatment of chronic pain is challenging. The Arkys project was initiated in Italy to assist general practitioners (GPs) in the management of chronic pain. The main objective of this study was to determine the usefulness of Arkys for selecting new therapeutic strategies. An online interactive questionnaire for assessing pain and guiding therapeutic decisions was made available to GPs participating to Arkys. The GPs were invited to complete the questionnaire for each patient who presented moderate-severe chronic pain, and to decide on a new analgesic treatment based on the information provided by the questionnaire. Two hundred and forty four GPs participated with a total of 3035 patients. Patients (mean age 68.9 years) had mostly chronic non-cancer pain (87.7%). In 42.3%, pain had neuropathic components. Only 53.6% of patients were in treatment with analgesics (strong opioids, 38.9%; NSAIDs, 32.6%; weak opioids, 25.6%; anti-epileptics, 17.3%; paracetamol, 14.9%). Use of the questionnaire resulted in the prescription of analgesics to all patients and in increased prescription of strong opioids (69.7%). NSAID prescription decreased (12.8%), while anti-epileptics use remained stable. These findings show that current management of chronic pain in primary care is far from optimal and that efforts are needed to educate GPs and improve guideline implementation.

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