Factors associated with general practitioner visits for pain in people experiencing chronic pain

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Journal of primary health care


Introduction Patients with chronic pain (CP) are frequent users of general practitioners (GPs). Aim This study aimed to assess factors associated with the rate of GP visits related to pain in patients with CP. Methods This study used data collected by adult specialist pain management services (SPMS) that participated in the electronic Persistent Pain Outcomes Collaboration (ePPOC) in Australia. Adult patients (18 years or older) with CP (duration greater than 3 months) who were referred to SPMS from the calendar year 2015-2021 were included (N  = 84 829). Results Patients who reported severe anxiety, stress, pain, pain interference, pain catastrophising and severely impaired pain self-efficacy were more likely to seek help from a GP. Patients with longer pain duration had a lower rate of GP visits. The rate of GP visits was 1.22 (IRR = 1.22, 95% CI: 1.19, 1.26) times higher in patients with severe pain severity, compared to patients with mild pain severity. Patients who used opioids were more likely to visit a GP (IRR = 1.32, 95% CI: 1.30, 1.34) than those who were not using opioids. Discussions More than half of the adult CP patients had greater than three GP visits in the 3 months before referral. This study would indicate that some patients may attend their GP to seek an opioid prescription. Given the rising use of opioids nationally, future study is required on opioid users' GP visitation practices. Additionally, the inverse association between pain duration and the rate of GP visits warrants further exploration.

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