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J Pain. 2003 Sep;4(7):361-71.

Institutionalizing pain management: the Post-Operative Pain Management Quality Improvement Project.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1532, USA.


Clinical practice and quality improvement (QI) guidelines for acute postoperative pain management have been developed to address the well-documented problem of undertreatment of postoperative pain. The Post-Operative Pain Management Quality Improvement Project (the POP Project) was initiated to determine whether an intervention designed to support hospitals in the development of QI efforts would lead to improvements in structures, processes, and outcomes consistent with recommended guidelines. A nationwide sample of 233 hospitals joined the project. The intervention consisted of written resource materials accompanied by support services that included an e-mail list server, a resource Web page, and assistance from POP Project staff via telephone. Data regarding critical structures, processes (practice patterns), and patient outcomes were collected at baseline before the intervention began and at follow-up 12 to 18 months later. Results showed a statistically significant increase from baseline (45%) to follow-up (72%) in the presence of structural elements that are critical to improving pain management. There were statistically significant improvements in practices including documented use of pain rating scales, decreased use of intramuscular opioids, and increased use of nonpharmacologic strategies. Patient survey data showed no change in pain outcomes. Evaluation data showed that 70% of hospitals were very or extremely satisfied with their participation in the POP Project and 90% of them planned to continue efforts to improve pain management after the POP Project ended. Further research is needed to determine how to translate the excellent results obtained for structure and process into meaningful outcomes for patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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