Mindfulness-based interdisciplinary pain management program for complex polymorbid pain in veterans: A randomized clinical trial

McGeary, D. D., Jaramillo, C., Eapen, B., Blount, T. H., Nabity, P. S., Moreno, J., Pugh, M. J., Houle, T. T., Potter, J. S., Young-McCaughan, S., Peterson, A. L., Villarreal, R., Brackins, N., Sikorski, Z., Johnson, T. R., Tapia, R., Reed, D., Caya, C. A., Bomer, D., Simmonds, M., & McGeary, C. A.
Oct 2, 2022

Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 103, 1899-1907

Objective: To evaluate the effects of interdisciplinary pain management on pain-related disability and opioid reduction in polymorbid pain patients with 2 or more comorbid psychiatric conditions. Design: Two-arm randomized controlled trial testing a 3-week intervention with assessments at pre-treatment, post-treatment, 6-month, and 12- month follow-up. Setting: Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility. Participants: 103 military veterans (N=103) with moderate (or worse) levels of pain-related disability, depression, anxiety, and/or posttraumatic stress disorder randomly assigned to usual care (n=53) and interdisciplinary pain management (n=50). All participants reported recent persistent opioid use. Trial participants had high levels of comorbid medical and mental health conditions. Interventions: Experimental arm—a 3-week, interdisciplinary pain management program guided by a structured manual; comparison arm—usual care in a large Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility. Main Outcome Measures: Oswestry Disability Index (pain disability); Timeline Followback Interview and Medication Event Monitoring System (opioid use). Analysis used generalized linear mixed model with all posttreatment observations (posttreatment, 6-month follow-up, 12-month fol[1]low-up) entered simultaneously to create a single posttreatment effect. Results: Veterans with polymorbid pain randomized to the interdisciplinary pain program reported significantly greater decreases in pain-related disability compared to veterans randomized to treatment as usual (TAU) at posttreatment, 6-month, and 12-month follow-up. Aggregated mean pain disability scores (ie, a summary effect of all posttreatment observations) for the interdisciplinary pain program were -9.1 (95% CI: -14.4, -3.7, P=.001) points lower than TAU. There was no difference between groups in the proportion of participants who resumed opioid use during trial participation (32% in both arms). Conclusion: These findings offer the first evidence of short- and long-term interdisciplinary pain management efficacy in polymorbid pain patients, but more work is needed to examine how to effectively decrease opioid use in this population.