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Copyright © 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved. Purpose Pain is suboptimally managed in patients with cancer. We aimed to compare the effect of a policy of adding a clinician-delivered bedside pain assessment and management tool (Edinburgh Pain Assessment and management Tool [EPAT]) to usual care (UC) versus UC alone on pain outcomes. Patients and Methods In a two-arm, parallel group, cluster randomized (1:1) trial, we observed pain outcomes in 19 cancer centers in the United Kingdom and then randomly assigned the centers to either implement EPAT or to continue UC. The primary outcome was change in the percentage of study participants in each center with a clinically significant ($ 2 point) improvement in worst pain (using the Brief Pain Inventory Short Form) from admission to 3 to 5 days after admission. Secondary outcomes included quality of analgesic prescribing and opioid-related adverse effects. Results Ten centers were randomly assigned to EPAT, and nine were assigned to UC. We enrolled 1,921 patients and obtained outcome data from 93% (n = 1,795). Participants (mean age, 60 years; 49% women) had a variety of cancer types. For centers randomly assigned to EPAT, the percentage of participants with a clinically significant improvement in worst pain increased from 47.7% to 54.1%, and for those randomly assigned to continue UC, this percentage decreased from 50.6% to 46.4%. The absolute difference was 10.7% (95% CI, 0.2% to 21.1%; P = .046) and it increased to 15.4% (95% CI, 5.8% to 25.0%; P = .004) when two centers that failed to implement EPAT were excluded. EPAT centers had greater improvements in prescribing practice and in the Brief Pain Inventory Short Form pain subscale score. Other pain and distress outcomes and opioid adverse effects did not differ between EPAT and UC. Conclusion A systematic integrated approach improves pain outcomes for inpatients in cancer centers without increasing opioid adverse effects.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Clinical Oncology

Publication Date





1284 - 1290