Objective: We hypothesized that educational interventions delivered by pharmacists to patients with chronic pain might improve pain-related outcomes and sought to establish “proof of concept” for this hypothesis.
Methods: We searched electronic databases and published literature for randomized studies that examined an educational intervention in relation to the management of chronic pain that was delivered by a pharmacist to an adult patient. Four studies were included that randomized 400 patients with chronic pain and which followed up patients between 1 and 16 weeks.
Results: Patients receiving these interventions experienced statistically significant benefits in the following outcomes compared with controls: a reduction in average pain intensity of 0.5 on a 0 to 10 rating scale, a reduction in adverse effects by more than 50%, and an improvement in satisfaction with treatment equivalent to approximately 1 point on a 0 to 10 rating scale. The interventions neither had effect on reducing interference from pain on daily life, nor on improving self-efficacy.
Discussion: Pharmacist-delivered educational interventions seem to reduce adverse events and improve satisfaction, but their clinical benefit on pain intensity is debatable. Our analysis suggests that the role of pharmacists may be important but a deeper understanding and evaluation of the active components of these interventions is needed within clinical trials before wider implementation into clinical practice can be recommended.