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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 May 2021 - 21 May 2021


Human Studies

2021 May 11

J Pain

A Preliminary Study of Provider Burden in the Treatment of Chronic Pain: Perspectives of Physicians and People with Chronic Pain.


This study compared perceptions of the burden of patient care and associated clinical judgments between physicians and people with chronic pain (PWCP) in a 2 × 3 × 2 between-subjects design that varied participant type, patient-reported pain severity (4-6-8/10), and supporting medical evidence (low/high). 109 physicians and 476 American Chronic Pain Association members were randomly assigned to one of six conditions. Respondents estimated the clinical burden they would assume as the treating physician of a hypothetical patient with chronic low back pain, and made clinical judgments regarding that patient. Physician burden ratings were significantly higher than PWCP ratings, and clinical impressions (e.g., trust in pain report, medical attribution) and management concerns (e.g., opioid abuse risk) were relatively less favorable. Neither pain severity nor medical evidence affected burden ratings significantly. High medical evidence was associated with more favorable clinical impressions; higher pain severity led to more discounting of patient pain reports. Burden was significantly correlated with a range of clinical judgments. Results indicate that physicians and people with chronic pain differ in their perceptions of provider burden and related clinical judgments in ways that could impact treatment collaboration. Further research is needed that examines provider burden in actual clinical practice. Perspective Physicians and people with chronic pain (PWCP) estimated the clinical burden of patient care and made judgments about a hypothetical patient with chronic pain. Physician burden ratings were higher and clinical judgments less favorable, relative to PWCP respondents. These differences could impact treatment collaboration and merit study in clinical practice.