"Keep trying": a qualitative investigation into what patients with chronic pain gain from Project ECHO

Publication type
Journal article
Carlin L, Zhao QJ, Bhatia D, Taenzer P, Flannery J, Furlan AD
Date published
2024 May 01
SAGE Open Medicine
Open Access?

OBJECTIVE: The study aims to investigate the patient perspective on the pathway from healthcare practitioners' presentations of their cases at a Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) tele-clinic to the management of those patients' chronic pain. INTRODUCTION: Managing patients with chronic and complex pain constitutes a prevalent, stressful challenge in the primary care setting. Primary care physicians typically have received little training in treating such patients and, until recently, have relied heavily on opioid and other pharmaceutical therapies as part of their regimen. Project ECHO Ontario Chronic Pain and Opioid Stewardship is an interprofessional telementoring program connecting pain specialists to primary care practitioners with the aim of supporting them in managing their patients with chronic pain, although the patients concerned do not generally participate in the telementoring sessions. While a number of papers have described the benefits accruing to healthcare professionals through participating in Project ECHO, there has been little exploration concerning patients' perceptions of their care subsequent to case presentation. METHODS: Using data from in-depth interviews with 20 patients along with their associated case presentation forms and the recommendations following the presentation, we look at the alignment of patient and practitioner views and inquire about the patient's perceptions of how Project ECHO affects them. RESULTS: Results suggest that the impact on patients is indirect but positive: most respondents express pleasure in contributing to research around chronic pain management, though only two of them identified a direct impact on their own treatment. They also appreciated their practitioner's efforts to bring expert attention to the patient's situation. CONCLUSIONS: Patients whose cases are presented to Project ECHO sessions experience positive emotions at being part of the process of research and quality improvement, regardless of changes in their own conditions. This study highlights the importance to patients of their practitioners' commitment to managing their chronic pain