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Adherence to medication guideline criteria in cancer pain management

Håkonsen, G.D. and Strelec, Petra and Campbell, Derna and Hudson, Steve and Loennechen, T. (2009) Adherence to medication guideline criteria in cancer pain management. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 37 (6). pp. 1006-1018. ISSN 0885-3924

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The medication-assessment tool for cancer pain management (MAT-CP) is a novel tool for measuring the quality of drug use in chronic pain management in relation to guideline standards. MAT-CP has recently been revised and validated for use in the U.K. clinical setting. This article presents a measure of the adherence of current practice to specific cancer pain guideline criteria in two palliative care settings. Adult patients with malignant disease experiencing pain and/or receiving analgesics were identified by clinical pharmacists at two hospitals and five hospices in Scotland, United Kingdom. The MAT-CP was applied to data extracted from case notes. Results were quantified in terms of applicability and adherence to guideline criteria and the presence of insufficient data. MAT-CP was applied to 192 cancer patients experiencing pain; 103 (54%) were males and the mean (standard deviation) age was 68.5 (13.0) years. Overall guideline adherence was 75% (confidence interval [CI]: 74%, 77%; n=3460 applicable criteria). Low adherence (<50%) was seen for nine criteria, whereas 21 criteria were considered high-adherence criteria (>75%). Overall adherences for 56 (29%) hospitalized patients and 136 (71%) hospice patients were 65% (CI: 62%, 68%) and 79% (CI: 78%, 81%), respectively. Although good overall guideline adherence was found, there were gaps in both the hospice and hospital palliative care settings in the implementation of certain treatment recommendations, particularly in relation to pain assessment. The application of the tool has highlighted issues for feedback to health care providers and for further study.