South Australian Director of the Australian Pain Society, Anne Burke, and fellow APS members have recently published this original research in Pain Medicine:
Anne L. J. Burke, Linley A. Denson, Jane L. Mathias and Malcolm N. Hogg
Issue published online: 22 JUN 2015
Article first published online: 28 FEB 2015
American Academy of Pain Medicine 2015 DOI: 10.1111/pme.12723
To document staffing (medical, nursing, allied health [AH], administrative) in Australian multidisciplinary persistent pain services and relate them to clinical activity levels.
Of the 68 adult outpatient persistent pain services approached (Dec’08–Jan’10), 45 agreed to participate, received over 100 referrals/year, and met the contemporaneous International Association for the Study of Pain criteria for Level 1 or 2 multidisciplinary services. Structured interviews with Clinical Directors collected quantitative data regarding staff resources (disciplines, amount), services provided, funding models, and activity levels.
Compared with Level 2 clinics, Level 1 centers reported higher annual demand (referrals), clinical activity (patient numbers) and absolute numbers of medical, nursing and administrative staff, but comparable numbers of AH staff. When staffing was assessed against activity levels, medical and nursing resources were consistent across services, but Level 1 clinics had relatively fewer AH and administrative staff. Metropolitan and rural services reported comparable activity levels and discipline-specific staff ratios (except occupational therapy). The mean annual AH staffing for pain management group programs was 0.03 full-time equivalent staff per patient.
Reasonable consistency was demonstrated in the range and mix of most disciplines employed, suggesting they represented workable clinical structures. The greater number of medical and nursing staff within Level 1 clinics may indicate a lower multidisciplinary focus, but this needs further exploration. As the first multidisciplinary staffing data for persistent pain clinics, this provides critical information for designing and implementing clinical services. Mapping against clinical outcomes to demonstrate the impact of staffing patterns on safe and efficacious treatment delivery is required.