Telementoring for improving primary care provider knowledge and competence in managing chronic pain: A randomised controlled trial

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Introduction: Primary care providers are frequently unprepared to manage chronic pain adequately due in part to insufficient professional training. This study evaluated the effect of a telementoring intervention on knowledge and perceived competence related to chronic pain management.

Methods: The study design was a cluster randomised controlled trial. Primary care clinics that were part of the University of Washington Medicine Telehealth network were the unit of randomization. Primary care providers comprised the intervention group (n = 23) and the control group (n = 18). Providers in the intervention group attended telementoring sessions through the TelePain programme and presented patient cases at the beginning and end of their enrolled patients’ 12-week study period. TelePain sessions included a didactic presentation and telementoring for specific patient cases by a panel of pain specialists from the disciplines of pain medicine, internal medicine, anaesthesiology, rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry, addiction medicine, nursing and complementary and integrative pain management. Providers’ baseline and end-of-study knowledge and perceived competence in managing chronic pain were assessed by three questionnaires: Knowledge and Attitudes Survey Regarding Pain, the KnowPain-12 and the Perceived Competence Scale.

Results: Knowledge (Z = –0.34, p = 0.97 (Knowledge and Attitudes Survey Regarding Pain) and Z = 0.49, p = 0.62 (KnowPain-12)) and perceived competence (Z = –0.74, p = 0.46) did not increase for providers in the intervention group compared with providers in the control group. These providers attended on average 12.5 sessions (range 0–31) while participating in the study.

Discussion: Further research is recommended to establish the effectiveness of this telementoring intervention.