Ongoing physician-patient communication is essential to the assessment of chronic pain and its biopsychosocial correlates. Comprehensive assessment requires a patient interview, physical examination, diagnostic testing when indicated, and prudent use of standardized scales and psychometric inventories. Recognizing that the chronic pain experience can be a dynamic process, the multiple objectives of assessment strategies include:
• establishing an accurate diagnosis of the underlying conditions(s) causing/exacerbating pain;
• clarification of the often uniquely individualized elements of the biopsychosocial aspects of the patient's pain experiences;
• development of a comprehensive treatment plan, and determination over the course of treatment when refinement and modification of those treatment strategies will be required;
• identification of objective and quantifiable outcome criteria against which the efficacy of implemented treatment strategies can be gauged;
• provision of the patient with an educational framework within which he/she can come to understand the interrelatedness of the biopsychosocial components of pain, the gamut of treatment approaches available, and the treatment options that are being implemented.
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