“Golden Half Hour in Chronic Pain”

A recent editorial (NL Schecter et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(1):7–8. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1798. Full text: The Golden Half Hour in Chronic Pediatric Pain—Feedback as the First Intervention -thanks to Ben Gold for this reference) notes that with pain we need to take a more holistic approach: ” Commonly, patients with chronic pain are evaluated by multiple clinicians, including pediatricians and specialists, each of whom may have addressed only one of the child’s persistent symptoms (ie, headache, abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea, or fatigue). When each symptom is addressed in isolation, it seldom provides comprehensive relief. Moreover, this process can foster a family’s belief that each symptom represents a distinct illness.”

Key points:

  • Brief feedback discussion following an assessment for pediatric chronic pain may be akin to the “golden hour” in trauma or neonatal care.  During this critical time, there is an opportunity to connect with a family, clarify misconceptions, move toward a shared biopsychosocial understanding of pain, and engage families in a comprehensive plan for recovery.”
  • Tips for mastering the golden hour:
    • Elicit Parent and Child Expectations at the Outset “This facilitates a thorough understanding of a family’s main concerns, reduces anxiety, and improves satisfaction. For example, if a parent reports that they expect their child to undergo additional diagnostic testing, this needs to be appreciated and addressed during the feedback.”
    • Validate Symptoms  “Explicitly stating that you do not believe the child is “faking” or that the problem is merely due to psychological stress is critical”
    • Offer a Positive Diagnosis “Although you are special, your symptoms are not unique or mysterious…. If the focus is on what has been ruled out, there are always additional diagnoses that you, the patient, or the internet can introduce.”
    • Provide Education “it can be helpful to explain that chronic pain is like a fire alarm that keeps ringing although there is no fire. “
    • Emphasize a Multidisciplinary Intervention Plan plan for medical intervention, psychological support, and physical activity
    • Stay Connected “Plan follow-up visits (every 4-6 weeks)”
    • Offer an Optimistic Appraisal  “optimistic appraisals are most effective when a clinician has first validated a child’s pain, provided a positive diagnosis and education, and outlined an evidence-based, multidisciplinary approach to care”

My take: This article offers helpful advice. However, whether there is a “golden hour” of opportunity is not clear. Having better outcomes with early intervention could easily be related, at least in part, to selection bias.

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From Ashish Jha Twitter Feed 2/1/21: