Li Wen

VA Long Beach Healthcare System, Long Beach, California, United States

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Publications (4)9.92 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Although pain ranks highly among reasons for seeking care, routine pain assessment is often inaccurate. This study evaluated factors associated with nurses (e.g., registered) and other nursing support staff (e.g., licensed vocational nurses and health technicians) discordance with patients in estimates of pain in a health system where routine pain screening using a 0-10 numeric rating scale (NRS) is mandated. This was a cross-sectional, visit-based, cohort study that included surveys of clinic outpatients (n=465) and nursing staff (n=94) who screened for pain as part of routine vital sign measurement during intake. These data were supplemented by chart review. We compared patient pain levels documented by the nursing staff (N-NRS) with those reported by the patient during the study survey (S-NRS). Pain underestimation (N-NRS<S-NRS) occurred in 25% and overestimation (N-NRS>S-NRS) in 7% of the cases. Nursing staff used informal pain-screening techniques that did not follow established NRS protocols in half of the encounters. Pain underestimation was positively associated with more years of nursing staff work experience and patient anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder and negatively associated with better patient-reported health status. Pain overestimation was positively associated with nursing staff's use of the full NRS protocol and with a distracting environment in which patient vitals were taken. Despite a long-standing mandate, pain-screening implementation falls short, and informal screening is common.
    Journal of pain and symptom management 11/2010; 40(5):723-33. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pain is a common, often undertreated problem among patients with palliative needs. To evaluate clinician factors associated with intention to address diverse aspects of pain. Clinicians reviewed a clinical vignette describing a frail elderly patient with advanced hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer, depression, and pain not on analgesic therapy. Clinicians were surveyed about their intentions for treatment. All 280 primary care and specialist clinicians working in 19 hospital and community-based primary care, oncology, and cardiology clinics at eight geographically dispersed sites in two large VA hospital systems. Endpoints were clinician intention to deliver guideline-concordant care: prescribe opioids/antidepressants, assess existential wellbeing, and offer mental health referral. Demographic and behavioral measures were evaluated in association with endpoints. Of 208 (74%) responding practitioners, 189 were responsible for prescribing decisions. Of those, 86, 77, 75, and 69 were "very"/"somewhat likely" to prescribe opioids, antidepressants, refer to a mental health specialist, or assess existential wellbeing, respectively. Factors associated with greater intent to prescribe an opioid or antidepressant included female gender, being an attending physician, being a primary care clinician, and greater confidence in pain management skills. Greater trust in the validity of pain ratings was associated with intent to prescribe an antidepressant and assess existential wellbeing. Prescribing opioids was less likely if perceived as an administrative burden. Assessing existential wellbeing was less likely if time constraints were perceived a barrier to evaluating pain. Female gender was the only factor associated with intent to refer to a mental health specialist. Our findings suggest useful targets for improving pain management include bolstering clinician confidence in pain management and their trust in pain ratings.
    Pain Medicine 09/2010; 11(9):1365-72. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Depression and anxiety frequently co-occur with pain and may affect treatment outcomes. Early identification of these co-occurring psychiatric conditions during routine pain screening may be critical for optimal treatment. To determine aspects of pain related to psychological distress, and, among distressed patients, to determine whether pain factors are related to provider identification of distress. Cross-sectional interview of primary care patients and their providers participating in a Veteran's Administration HELP-Vets study. A total of 528 predominately male Veterans We measured self-reported pain, including a 0-10 numeric rating scale and interference items from the Brief Pain Inventory. To evaluate distress, brief indicators of depression, anxiety and PTSD were combined. A substantial number of patients had psychological distress (41%), which was even higher (62%) among patients with moderate-severe current pain. Only 29% of those with distress reported talking to their provider about emotional problems during their visit. In multivariate analyses, other pain factors related to distress included interference with enjoyment of life and relationships with others, pain in multiple locations and joint pains. Prior diagnoses of depression and anxiety were also related to current distress. Only prior diagnosis and patient reported headaches and sleep interference because of pain were related to provider identification of distress. VA patients with moderate-severe pain are at high risk for psychological distress, which often goes unrecognized. Providers need to be more vigilant to mental health problems in patients experiencing high pain levels. Targeted screening for co-occurring conditions is warranted.
    Journal of General Internal Medicine 04/2009; 24(5):620-5. · 3.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although many health care organizations require routine pain screening (eg, "5th vital sign") with the 0 to 10 numeric rating scale (NRS), its accuracy has been questioned; here we evaluated its accuracy and potential causes for error. We randomly surveyed veterans and reviewed their charts after outpatient encounters at 2 hospitals and 6 affiliated community sites. Using correlation and receiver operating characteristic analysis, we compared the routinely measured "5th vital sign" (nurse-recorded NRS) with a research-administered NRS (research-recorded NRS) and the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI). During 528 encounters, nurse-recorded NRS and research-recorded NRS correlated moderately (r = 0.627), as did nurse-recorded NRS and BPI severity scales (r = 0.613 for pain during the last 24 hours and r = 0.588 for pain during the past week). Correlation with BPI interference was lower (r = 0.409). However, the research-recorded NRS correlated substantially with the BPI severity during the past 24 hours (r = 0.870) and BPI severity during the last week (r = 0.840). Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed similar results. Of the 98% of cases where a numeric score was recorded, 51% of patients reported their pain was rated qualitatively, rather than with a 0 to 10 scale, a practice associated with pain underestimation (chi2 = 64.04, P < .001). Though moderately accurate, the outpatient "5th vital sign" is less accurate than under ideal circumstances. Personalizing assessment is a common clinical practice but may affect the performance of research tools such as the NRS adopted for routine use.
    The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 22(3):291-8. · 1.76 Impact Factor