MIDDLETOWN, Conn., November 2, 2017 -- The journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) has published a Weitzman Institute study showing that opioid prescribing “decreased significantly” among primary care providers who attended a series of Project ECHO Pain video-sessions.
The two-year study, in the October edition of Pain Medicine, was rated an “Editor’s Choice” by Oxford University Press, publisher of the highly rated peer-reviewed journal.
The study was coauthored by Daren Anderson, M.D., director of Community Health Center, Inc.’s Weitzman Institute and CHC’s vice president/chief quality control officer.
“I don’t think it was until the last four or five years that the extent of the damage that opioids were doing became apparent,” said Dr. Anderson of the study, “Improving Pain Care with Project ECHO in Community Health Centers.”
“I think we’re really at a tipping point right now in that we’re fully aware that what we used to think was true [about opioids’ safety] is, in fact, not true,” Dr. Anderson said.
“Unlearning is a challenge,” he added, “and it takes a lot of work to retrain people who have been doing this for a long time.”
In addition to decreased opioid prescribing, providers in the study used opioid agreements with their patients more than providers in the control group. They also were more likely to refer patients to behavioral health and physical therapists to help them manage pain.
The study’s coauthors are with CHC in Middletown, the Integrative Pain Center in Tucson, Ariz., and the University of Connecticut Health Disparities Institute in Farmington.
Weitzman ECHO is one of the largest ECHO providers in the country, delivering videoconferences at 254 sites in 28 states. The initiative covers a variety of subject areas, including substance abuse, complex care management, pediatric and adolescent behavioral health, hepatitis C and HIV.
The Weitzman study is available at https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article/18/10/1882/4065453/Improving-Pain-Care-with-Project-ECHO-in-Community