A new study appearing in the March 9 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine reports on the effectiveness of a stepped-care strategy in improving function and decreasing pain severity among returning veterans with chronic pain. The study was conducted by researchers from the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute, and the Indiana University School of Medicine. Pain is a critical health issue for veterans, many of whom have had multiple deployments and are more likely to suffer chronic pain than veterans of any other conflict.
The randomized controlled ESCAPE trial (Evaluation of Stepped Care for Chronic Pain) achieved a decrease in pain severity and 30% improvement in pain-related disability, with improvement lasting for at least 9 months. The technique is a 2-step program combining analgesics, self-management strategies, and cognitive behavioral therapy. In the study, the program was provided over the telephone by nurse care managers to 241 veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn who suffered from musculoskeletal pain of the back, knee, neck, or shoulder.
Read a news story about the study here.