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Papers of the Week

2022 Aug 17

J Palliat Care

Evaluating Cancer Pain Characteristics and Treatment Factors in the Emergency Department: A Retrospective Cohort Study.


Gupta R, Lin L, Resley V, Khan A, Li DR, Shatsky RA, Coyne CJ
J Palliat Care. 2022 Aug 17:8258597221121316.
PMID: 35979605.


To identify patient characteristics and treatment factors of patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with cancer-related pain that may affect patient outcomes. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to evaluate adult patients with active cancer, who presented to the ED with a chief complaint of pain between June first, 2012 and January first, 2016. We utilized multivariable logistic regression to evaluate the association of several exposure variables, including disease and demographic characteristics, primary pain site, and treatment methods, on ED disposition and revisit rate. We included 483 patients with active cancer with a chief complaint of pain. Patients with severe pain on arrival tended to be younger than those who did not present with severe pain (median: 58 vs 62 respectively, OR 8.0 p < 0.01). Patients with high ECOG scores (3-4) with severe pain on arrival (≥7 out of 10) had less improvement in their pain than the rest of our cohort (OR 8.4, p < 0.01). Also, those with musculoskeletal pain had significantly less improvement in reported pain than all other pain types (delta pain -2.1 vs -3.4, OR 2.3, p = 0.025) Long delays in initial analgesic administration were associated with increased rates of subsequent admission (OR 3.4) [p = 0.014]. Although opioid analgesics led to greater decreases in pain than non-opioid analgesics, patients treated with opioids were more likely to be admitted (43% vs 34.5% AOR 1.51, p = 0.048). Our study showed that delays in analgesic administration, poor functional status, and the presence of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain significantly influenced outcomes for this patient cohort. These findings suggest the development of specific protocols and tools to address cancer-related pain in the ED may be necessary.