Evaluation of an innovative tele-education intervention in chronic pain management for primary care clinicians practicing in underserved areas

Andrea D Furlan
Jane Zhao
Jennifer Voth
Samah Hassan
Ruth Dubin
Jennifer N Stinson
Susan Jaglal
Ralph Fabico
Andrew J Smith
Paul Taenzer
John F Flannery


INTRODUCTION: Inadequate knowledge and training of healthcare providers are obstacles to effective chronic pain management. ECHO (extension for community healthcare outcomes) uses case-based learning and videoconferencing to connect specialists with providers in underserved areas. ECHO aims to increase capacity in managing complex cases in areas with poor access to specialists.

METHODS: A pre-post study was conducted to evaluate the impact of ECHO on healthcare providers' self-efficacy, knowledge and satisfaction. Type of profession, presenting a case, and number of sessions attended were examined as potential factors that may influence the outcomes.

RESULTS: From June 2014 to March 2017, 296 primary care healthcare providers attended ECHO, 264 were eligible for the study, 170 (64%) completed the pre-ECHO questionnaire and 119 completed post-ECHO questionnaires. Participants were physicians (34%), nurse practitioners (21%), pharmacists (13%) and allied health professionals (32%). Participants attended a mean of 15 ± 9.19 sessions. There was a significant increase in self-efficacy (

DISCUSSION: This study shows that ECHO improved providers' self-efficacy and knowledge. We evaluated outcomes from a multidisciplinary group of providers practicing in Ontario. This diversity supports the generalisability of our findings. Therefore, we suggest that this project may be used as a template for creating other educational programs on other medical topics.