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Acute Pain Resolution After an Emergency Department Visit: A 14-Day Trajectory Analysis

Raoul Daoust, MD, MSca,c,∗,

* Jean Paquet, PhDa, Alexis Cournoyer, MDa,c, Éric Piette, MD, MSca,c, Judy Morris, MD, MSca,c, Justine Lessard, MDa,c, Véronique Castonguay, MDa,c, Gilles Lavigne, DMD, PhDb,d, Jean-Marc Chauny, MD, MSca,c

Study objective

The objective of the study is to evaluate the acute pain intensity evolution in emergency department (ED) discharged patients, using group-based trajectory modeling. This method identifies patient groups with similar profiles of change over time without assuming the existence of a particular pattern or number of groups.


This was a prospective cohort study of ED patients aged 18 years or older, with an acute pain condition (≤2 weeks), and discharged with an opioid prescription. Patients completed a 14-day diary assessing daily pain intensity level (numeric rating scale of 0 to 10) and pain medication use.


Among the 372 included patients, 6 distinct post-ED pain intensity trajectories were identified. Two started with severe levels of pain; one remained with severe pain intensity (12.6% of the sample) and the other ended with a moderate pain intensity level (26.3%). Two other trajectories had severe initial pain; one decreased to mild pain (21.7%) and the other to no pain (13.8%). Another trajectory had moderate initial pain that decreased to a mild level (15.9%) and the last one started with mild pain intensity and had no pain at the end of the 14-day period (9.7%). The pain trajectory patterns were significantly associated with age, type of painful conditions, pain intensity at ED discharge, and opioid consumption.


Acute pain resolution after an ED visit seems to progress through 6 different trajectory patterns that are more informative than simple linear models and could be useful to adapt acute pain management in future research.

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