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Bringing chronic-pain care to rural veterans: A telehealth pilot program description.

Glynn LH, Chen JA, Dawson TC, Gelman H, Zeliadt SB. Bringing chronic-pain care to rural veterans: A telehealth pilot program description. Psychological Services. 2021 Aug 1; 18(3):310-318.

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Opioid-related harms disproportionately affect rural communities. Recent research-based policy changes have called for reductions in opioid prescribing and substitution of safe and effective alternatives to opioids for treating chronic pain, but such alternatives are often difficult to access in rural areas. Telehealth services can help address this disparity by bringing evidence-based, biopsychosocial chronic-pain services to rural and underserved patients with chronic pain. This article describes a 2-year pilot project for delivering chronic-pain care by pain specialists from central hubs at Veterans Health Administration (VA) medical centers to spokes at VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs). The VA Puget Sound Pain Telehealth pilot program offered pain education classes, cognitive-behavioral therapy groups, opioid-safety education, and acupuncture education. The program delivered 501 encounters to patients from 1 hub to 4 CBOC spoke sites from 2016 to 2018, and supported training, administration, equipment acquisition, and grant-writing. The quality-improvement project was rolled out using existing local resources. We present initial findings about the patients who utilized Pain Telehealth, share lessons learned, and discuss future directions for expansion. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

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