Science Supports Multidisciplinary Care

A number of recent research studies have concluded that participation in a comprehensive,multidisciplinary pain program is more effective in treating chronic pain than usual medical care.

A review of all randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of multidisciplinary treatments of chronic pain (Scaschghini 2008) found strong evidence in favor of multidisciplinary treatments in contrast to standard treatment.

Chou (2009) rated the use of interdisciplinary treatment for low back pain as a “strong” recommendation associated with a “high” quality of evidence.

Townsend (2008) conducted a study of 373 consecutive patients admitted to a MPP for a three-week comprehensive pain rehabilitation program that incorporated opioid withdrawal, reporting that 91% completed the program with significant improvements in measures of pain severity, depression, psychosocial functioning, and health status six months after treatment.

Oslund (2009) explored the long-term effectiveness of interdisciplinary pain management programs and found that patients reported improved outcomes in function and pain severity and that these gains were maintained at one year.

American Pain Society guidelines (2009) strongly advise that when physicians prescribe daily opioid treatment they "routinely integrate psychotherapeutic interventions, functional restoration, interdisciplinary therapy, and other adjunctive non-opioid therapies." 

Despite the expert recommendation, many patients receive only medications, procedures or "routine" physical therapy.