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ABSTRACT: Optimal treatment for patients with chronic pain remains elusive. A growing international consensus advocates evidence-based practice with assessment of clinical outcomes to improve the process and outcome of care. Clinical decision making about treatment options for an individual patient should include the patient's clinical presentation, available evidence, and patient preferences. Treatment should then be monitored and outcomes of treatment assessed. Although the placement of clinical decision making on a scientific, often quantitative basis as opposed to a subjective, impressionistic approach makes intuitive sense, the question is whether we have been measuring what we need to measure to practice evidence-based practice when we consider the current available evidence on pain management? The methods of synthesis of available evidence are still in development. Much of the evidence, although having internal validity, has limited external validity and is difficult to apply to the individual patient. Patients with chronic pain are a heterogeneous group, and different interventions may be indicated for different subgroups of patients. Various methods are being developed to better match patients with treatment. Little information exists on patient preferences, or how best to measure these. Information on how health care providers make clinical decisions is also scarce. Outcome measurement has come a long way and core domains to be measured have been established. Establishing normative data is a next main goal. Important methodologic and practical challenges remain to formulate evidence that can be applied to the individual patient with chronic pain.
Clinical Journal of Pain 06/2008; 24(4):316-24. · 2.55 Impact Factor