Veterans Health Administration (VHA) National Pain Management Strategy
VHA has initiated a comprehensive national strategy for pain management. The overall goal of the new VHA National Pain Management Strategy is to prevent pain and suffering in persons receiving care in the veterans healthcare system. The specific objectives of this strategy are to: Provide a system-wide VHA standard of care for pain management that will reduce suffering from preventable pain. Assure that pain assessment is performed in a consistent manner. Assure that pain treatment is prompt and appropriate. Include patients and families as active participants in pain management. Provide for continual monitoring and improvement in outcomes of pain treatment. Provide for an interdisciplinary, multi-modal approach to pain management. Assure that clinicians practicing in the VHA healthcare system are adequately prepared to assess and manage pain effectively.
Outcomes Toolkit Objectives
The VHA Pain Outcomes Toolkit was developed by the VA National Pain Outcomes Workgroup, a subgroup of the VA National Pain Management Coordinating Committee, as part of the VHA’s National Pain Management Strategy. The toolkit was designed to assist healthcare providers and facilities devise methods and implement processes to measure pain treatment outcomes. Measuring the effectiveness of pain treatment and pain service delivery mechanisms is critical to the VHA’s goal of improved pain treatment services. Definition of Outcomes Measurement Outcomes measurement refers to “…the systematic collection and analysis of information that is used to evaluate the efficacy of an intervention” (Clark & Gironda, 2002). Systematic collection means that data are gathered at multiple time points using the same methods or instruments. Analysis refers to the process of condensing and examining the data to identify meaningful trends or changes. Analysis may indicate that changes in processes or practices should be undertaken to improve treatment outcomes or to remove system barriers to care. Usually, in clinical settings outcomes measures are collected before and after an intervention with the assumption that any changes observed in the measure can be attributed to the effects of the intervention. However, it is important to remember that other known or unknown factors also could account for the observed changes, particularly in healthcare settings where multiple interventions or events may have transpired between the initial assessment and the post-intervention assessment. Therefore, multiple episodes of data collection are preferred as they facilitate the identification of trends in the data that may be more reliable indicators of intervention-related change.