Pandemic impact and adaptation to telehealth in chronic pain treatment providers across two COVID-19 pandemic years

Kevin E. Vowles*, Roger D. Knaggs, Angela C. Palomares

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Objectives
The COVID-19 pandemic has had substantial impacts for both people using pain services and healthcare professionals delivering them. While the effects on service users have been studied, less is known about the effects for service providers. This study aimed to assess the impact of the pandemic on providers and the evolving role of telemedicine in treatment.

Design & Methods
An electronic survey was distributed to the professional membership of the European Pain Federation (EFIC). The survey evaluated impact and adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic separately across two pandemic years (March 2020–February 2021 and March 2021 to February 2022) and assessed worry about COVID-19, disruption and adjustment of pain services, and use of telehealth services. The change between the first and second pandemic years and the degree to which telehealth services were adopted was evaluated.

Results
From 149 respondents, 131 (88%) participants provided sufficient data to be included in the analysis. Both providers worry about the pandemic and service disruption decreased significantly from the first to the second year of the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, only 30% of providers offered telehealth appointments but this increased to 64% and 83%, respectively, in the first and second years of the pandemic.

Conclusions
Although provider worry and disruption to delivery of pain services decreased during the second year of COVID-19 pandemic, waiting times for appointments continued to lengthen. The pandemic has hastened the adoption of telemedicine in pain services and plans to continue telehealth services seem common.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalPain Practice
Early online date25 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 25 Oct 2023

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