A qualitative study of the barriers to chronic pain management in the ED

Barth L. Wilsey, Scott M Fishman, Margie Crandall, Carlos Casamalhuapa, Klea D Bertakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Purpose: This qualitative study sought to identify perceived barriers to diagnosing and treating patients with chronic pain in the emergency department (ED). Basic Procedure: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 24 ED physicians from 4 hospitals to elucidate their experiences of managing chronic pain in the ED. Main Findings: Time limitations and a low triage priority were major barriers to caring for patients with chronic pain. But despite the inherent problems of treating a nonurgent condition in a time-limited setting, physicians were strong proponents for treating chronic pain in the ED. Principal Conclusion: Acknowledging that pain can neither be verified nor disproved, physicians tend to err on the side of the patient, often providing an allotment of opioid medications. They also believe that the ED is not an optimal setting for treating patients in chronic pain but that it is often the last resort for many of these patients, thus, providing the rationale for serving them to the best of their ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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