Chronic non-cancer pain: A siren for primary care - A report from the Primary Care MultiEthnic Network (PRIME Net)

Robert R. Leverence, Robert L. Williams, Michael Potter, Douglas Fernald, Mark Unverzagt, Wilson Pace, Bennett Parnes, Elvan Daniels, Betty Skipper, Robert J. Volk, Anthony E. Brown, Robert L. Rhyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Introduction: Patients with chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) are common and have a high degree of morbidity. Previous studies document clinician frustration and variability in CNCP management. We conducted this study to gather in-depth clinicians' views about factors that affect management of CNCP. Methods: We conducted a survey in the Primary Care MultiEthnic Network, a consortium of PBRNs of primary care clinicians practicing in low-income, medically underserved communities, and in a network of private primary care offices. Results: Of 792 clinicians surveyed, 497 (63%) participated. Responses and accompanying narrative comments clustered around 5 themes: (1) barriers to and uncertainties in optimal management; (2) the complex biopsychosocial nature of CNCP; (3) seriousness of prescription opioid abuse; (4) effort and burden required to properly manage CNCP; and (5) clinician commitment to provide care for CNCP patients and benefits of expanded care model for CNCP. One-third reported a severe outcome (death or life-threatening event) in a CNCP patient for whom they had prescribed opioids. Roughly one-third do not initiate prescribing of opioids. Conclusions: Guidelines and increased continuing medical education alone are unlikely to be the solutions to the challenges of CNCP management. Increased evidence for recommendations and resources for more comprehensive care management are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-561
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Pain
  • Practice-based research
  • Primary health care
  • Underserved populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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