Published by Dovepress
Introduction: Many providers report lack of confidence in managing patients with chronic pain. Thus, the primary aim of this study was to investigate the associations of provider confidence in managing chronic pain with their practice behaviors and demographics.
Materials and methods: The primary outcome measure was the results of the Opioid Therapy Provider Survey, which was administered to clinicians attending a pain-focused continuing medical education conference. Nonparametric correlations were assessed using Spearman’s rho.
Results: Of the respondents, 55.0% were women, 92.8% were white, and 56.5% were physicians. Primary care providers accounted for 56.5% of the total respondents. The majority of respondents (60.8%) did not feel confident managing patients with chronic pain. Provider confidence in managing chronic pain was positively correlated with 1) following an opioid therapy protocol (P=0.001), 2) the perceived ability to identify patients at risk for opioid misuse (P=0.006), and 3) using a consistent practice-based approach to improve their comfort level with prescribing opioids (P<0.001). Provider confidence was negatively correlated with the perception that treating pain patients was a “problem in my practice” (P=0.005). Conclusion: In this study, the majority of providers did not feel confident managing chronic pain. However, provider confidence was associated with a protocolized and consistent practice-based approach toward managing opioids and the perceived ability to identify patients at risk for opioid misuse. Future studies should investigate whether provider confidence is associated with measurable competence in managing chronic pain and explore approaches to enhance appropriate levels of confidence in caring for patients with chronic pain.