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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Feb 2024 - 16 Feb 2024

2024 Feb 07

J Pain


Treatment Goals and Preferences of Black Veterans with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain.


Shanahan ML, Rand KL, Galloway A, Matthias MS


Understanding patient goals and preferences is critical in the context of complex conditions such as chronic pain. This need may be especially pronounced for Black patients, who experience significant health and healthcare disparities. The primary aim of this study was to describe the treatment goals and preferences of Black veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain who were enrolled in the intervention arm of a randomized controlled trial testing a coaching intervention. In the coaching sessions, participants (n=106) identified their most important pain-related treatment goals and preferences. Participants’ top treatment goals were to improve physical functioning (61%), increase engagement in valued activities (45%), and reduce pain intensity (37%). Most participants (73%) preferred non-pharmacological treatments (e.g., physical therapy, exercise, acupuncture, yoga). The 17% of participants who identified medications as a preferred treatment demonstrated higher levels of depression and anxiety compared to those who did not. Approximately 42% and 21% of participants stated a preference to avoid pharmacological and surgical pain treatments, respectively. Black patients with chronic pain prioritize improving physical functioning and pain intensity in service of increasing their engagement in exercise, work, relationships, and leisure activities. Also, in the current study, patients expressed a clear preference for non-pharmacological pain treatments. Future research should investigate ways to improve communication of goals and preferences with providers and facilitate access to non-pharmacological treatments for Black patients with chronic pain. PERSPECTIVE: This article describes treatment goals and preferences of Black veterans with chronic pain. Most patients prioritized goals to improve physical functioning, pain severity and participation in valued activities. Patients primarily preferred non-pharmacological treatments. This emphasizes the need for clear communication with Black patients regarding pain-related goals and non-pharmacological treatment options.