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Referring patients to persistent pain management services

Persistent, or chronic pain is pain that has been present for more than 3 months. It may or may not be linked to a specific underlying disease process for instance arthritis, or associated with a surgical procedure, for example a total joint replacement or hernia repair.

1 in 5 Australians have persistent pain. There are well established connections between long-standing pain and neurological, immunological and endocrine changes.

Many people with persistent pain can continue to function independently. People with persistent pain who cannot work, struggle with daily living activities, are socially isolated or are using high amounts of pain medication (specifically opioids) may be referred to a persistent pain clinic.

Persistent pain management services

Persistent pain management services (PPMS) are not diagnostic services. They are for patients with complex pain who require a multidisciplinary approach for the management of their pain.

PPMS expect patients (and/or their carers) to take an active role in learning self-management techniques and to have a general practitioner who remains central to the supervision of their care.

The treatment goals of persistent pain management are to improve management of pain, improve function and improve quality of life overall. The approach is primarily rehabilitative and multidisciplinary with a focus on promoting self-management of their pain in the community.

Read more about persistent pain management options for GPs (PDF 364 kB).

Refer a patient

Referrals are only accepted from general practitioners. Each persistent pain management clinic has its own referral form, find your closest persistent pain clinic.

Alternatively, referrals can be made via HealthPathways if a persistent pain pathway has been locally established. GPs should check if they have access to HealthPathways.

Patients referred to Persistent pain management services should:

  • have persistent pain with disability or psychological distress relating to pain
  • have persistent pain that has been thoroughly investigated
  • have referrals accompanied by all relevant investigations and specialist reports.

For futher information regarding categorisation of pain clinics, refer to the Persistent pain clinical prioritisation criteria, or contact your local PPMS.

Discharge planning and communication guide

The discharge planning and communication guide (PDF 309 kB) was developed to assist persistent pain management services streamline discharge planning and communication processes with general practitioners and other primary care providers.

Read the discharge planning and communication guide for more information (PDF 309 kB).

Last updated: 26 July 2019