BACKGROUND: Reliable evidence detailing effective treatments and management practices for chronic noncancer pain exists. However, little is known about which knowledge translation (KT) interventions lead to the uptake of this evidence in practice.
OBJECTIVES: To conduct a systematic review of the effectiveness of KT interventions for chronic noncancer pain management.
METHODS: Comprehensive searches of electronic databases, the gray literature and manual searches of journals were undertaken. Randomized controlled trials, controlled clinical trials and controlled before-and-after studies of KT interventions were included. Data regarding interventions and primary outcomes were categorized using a standard taxonomy; a risk-of-bias approach was adopted for study quality. A narrative synthesis of study results was conducted.
RESULTS: More than 8500 titles and abstracts were screened, with 230 full-text articles reviewed for eligibility. Nineteen studies were included, of which only a small proportion were judged to be at low risk of bias. Interactive KT education for health care providers has a positive effect on patients’ function, but its benefits for other health provider- and patient-related outcomes are inconsistent. Interactive education for patients leads to improvements in knowledge and function. Little research evidence supports the effectiveness of structural changes in health systems and quality improvement processes or coordination of care.
CONCLUSIONS: KT interventions incorporating interactive education in chronic noncancer pain led to positive effects on patients’ function and knowledge about pain. Future studies should provide implementation details and use consistent theoretical frameworks to better estimate the effectiveness of such interventions.