Researchers produce DVD to help patients live with and manage neuropathic pain

Health professionals and patients can now go online for help and tips from a groundbreaking pain clinic, which halved referrals to hospital.

Researchers from the University of Leeds in partnership with Leeds Primary Care Trust have produced the DVD to share their successful pilot project to help patients live with and manage neuropathic pain.

The community based pain clinic in Leeds, led by a nurse and a pharmacist, has reduced pain, increased patient satisfaction rates and cut referrals to the main hospital pain clinic.

Over 12 months the clinic received 120 new referrals - half of all chronic pain referrals within the PCT.  Of these only 13 were referred on to hospital care. 

Researchers recorded the intensity of patients' pain scores on referral to the service and on discharge. The average score on referral was eight and on discharge this average dropped to six.

Ninety two percent of patients surveyed were either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the primary-care based clinic.

A survey in 2005 of chronic pain in Europe showed that 19 per cent of adults across the continent suffered from levels of pain that affected their social and working lives.  Neuropathic pain, due to damaged nerves, is one of the most difficult pains to treat.  Patients often compare the pain to being stung by wasps or to pins and needles.

Dr Michelle Briggs of the University's School of Healthcare, who led the research project with colleague Professor José Closs, explains: "Neuropathic pain is common and management is hampered by lack of resources in both primary and secondary care.  Our main concern was that people would end up having to go on to the hospital pain clinic because there wasn't much that a pharmacist and nurse could do to help in the new community based clinic.  That wasn't the case and the project has shown the potential to improve care for people in pain"

Kath Marczewski, a chronic pain nurse specialist from Leeds PCT, runs the clinic with pharmacist colleagues.  She works with Dr Dudley Bush, consultant in pain management at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, to select patients who will gain the most benefit from the clinic. 

She says: "Our approach is different and very focussed on the patient.  We are able to spend more time with patients than they would get in a hospital so they feel they have been heard and listened to.   To the PCT there's a big cost advantage because re-referral rate is low which suggests people are coping."

The research team was able to make the DVD after winning first prize and £10,000 in the Napp Achievement in Pain Practice Awards. 

Nikki Swarbrick, is one of four patients featured in the DVD.  She was left with pain following major surgery.

"The clinic encouraged me to manage my own pain and to try anything.  There is hope for the future.  It may be a lot different from how it was before but you can still live a very good life.  You are your own specialist in your pain."


University of Leeds


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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