UF researchers to evaluate policy changes in pain treatment strategies

Pain Management Patient_CopyResearchers at the University of Florida want to know if new pain management strategies for hospitalized patients are as effective and safe as previous practices.

College of Pharmacy researchers Almut Winterstein, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, and Juan Hincapie-Castillo, Pharm.D., a graduate student in the same department, received a nearly $28,000 grant from UF Health to study the impact of policy changes on pharmacy-generated order sets within UF Health’s hospitals.

Recent policy changes originating from regulatory recommendations require pain management strategies to be dictated by new explicit pain score-based protocols. Caregivers rely on the protocols to administer pain medications at a specific dosage based on pain scores. Prior to the policy changes, caregivers were allowed some clinical judgment when administering a medication order set.

“Through the evaluation of policy changes in pain treatment strategies, we aim to explain how pharmacy-generated order sets are utilized and affect clinical outcomes,” Winterstein said. “Our research has the potential to improve the standards of care in pain management and provide evidence to deliver safer, more reliable and effective care.”

In the study, UF researchers will analyze data collected from electronic health records of patients receiving analgesic medication originating from an order set. Variables that will be examined include relevant medication orders, medication administration records, vital signs and pain scores, along with pain management survey data collected through the health system’s patient satisfaction surveys. Statistical analysis will help researchers identify trends in the proposed outcomes before and after the order set changes were introduced.

The data collected will also help researchers establish a repository that can be used in future studies evaluating pain management approaches.