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Moving toward patient-centered care in the emergency department: Patient-reported expectations, definitions of success, and importance of improvement in pain-related outcomes.

OBJECTIVES: Musculoskeletal pain is a common emergency department (ED) presentation, and patient-centered care may improve quality of life, treatment satisfaction, and outcomes. Our objective was to investigate the expectations, definitions of success, and priorities of ED patients with musculoskeletal pain. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of the demographic, clinical, and psychosocial characteristics of adult ED patients (n = 210) with musculoskeletal pain. Patients completed the Patient-Centered Outcomes Questionnaire to quantify usual, desired, expected, and successful levels of pain and interference with daily activities, fatigue, and emotion from 0 (none) to 100 (worst imaginable). They also reported the importance of improvement in each domain. Cluster analysis identified subgroups by importance ratings. Patients were asked their willingness to try various pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments. Fully completed surveys were analyzed (n = 174). RESULTS: Most patients desired 100% resolution in each domain and defined treatment success as substantial (median = 63.2%-76.5%) reductions but expected only moderate (median = 45%-53.7%) improvements across all domains. Patients with previous pain episodes had similar desired levels but less stringent definitions of success and expectations for improvement. Cluster analysis identified three patient subgroups by importance ratings of each domain: (1) multiple domains important (n = 118) with high importance attached to all four domains, (2) pain and function important (n = 34) with high importance primarily for pain and interference with daily activities, and (3) only pain important (n = 22). Regardless of subgroup, there was a high willingness to use a variety of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments. DISCUSSION: ED patients with musculoskeletal pain have expectations and goals that include addressing impairments in function, improving quality of life, and reducing pain. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that: (1) patient subgroups by outcome priorities may exist that could inform multimodal, personalized approaches from the ED and (2) patients are flexible in which treatments they are willing to try to meet their individual goals.

Citation: 

Flynn, Spencer B., Alexander Gordee, Maragatha Kuchibhatla, Steven Z. George, and Stephanie A. Eucker. “Moving toward patient-centered care in the emergency department: Patient-reported expectations, definitions of success, and importance of improvement in pain-related outcomes.” Acad Emerg Med 28, no. 11 (November 2021): 1286–98. https://doi.org/10.1111/acem.14328.

Published Date: 
Monday, November 1, 2021
Published In: 
Acad Emerg Med
PMID: 
34358379