The acceptability and feasibility of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for pain management among new England veterans with chronic pain: A pilot study
OBJECTIVES: Musculoskeletal disorders often lead to chronic pain in Veterans. Chronic pain puts sufferers at risk for substance misuse, and early intervention is needed for both conditions. This pilot study tested the feasibility and acceptability of a Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment for Pain Management intervention (SBIRT-PM) to help engage Veterans seeking disability compensation for painful musculoskeletal disorders in multimodal pain treatment and to reduce risky substance use, when indicated. METHODS: This pilot study enrolled 40 Veterans from 8 medical centers across New England in up to 4 sessions of telephone-based counseling using a motivational interviewing framework. Counseling provided education about, and facilitated engagement in, multimodal pain treatments. Study eligibility required Veterans be engaged in no more than 2 Veteran Affairs (VA) pain treatment modalities, and study participation involved a 12-week postassessment and semistructured interview about the counseling process. RESULTS: Majorities of enrolled Veterans screened positive for comorbid depression and problematic substance use. Regarding the offered counseling, 80% of participants engaged in at least one session, with a mean of 3 sessions completed. Ninety percent of participants completed the postassessment. Numerically, most measures improved slightly from baseline to week 12. In semistructured interviews, participants described satisfaction with learning about new pain care services, obtaining assistance connecting to services, and receiving support from their counselors. DISCUSSION: It was feasible to deliver SBIRT-PM to Veterans across New England to promote engagement in multimodal pain treatment and to track study outcomes over 12 weeks. Preliminary results suggest SBIRT-PM was well-received and has promise for the targeted outcomes.