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MCSTAP: Guidance for Clinicians Treating Substance Use Disorder, Pain or Both

Posted by on December 29th, 2020 Posted in: Blog, Funded Project, Public Health
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One of the NER’s Year 5 funded grant recipients is the Massachusetts Consultation Service for Addiction and Pain or MCSTAP (https://mcstap.com/) for short.

MCSTAP’s goal is to help primary care providers increase their capacity for and comfort in using evidence-based practices to screen, diagnose, treat and manage the care of patients with chronic pain, substance use disorders, or both. MCSTAP believes that with the right support, all providers and clinicians can effectively care for patients with chronic pain and/or substance use disorder. Helping those who are treating patients with these challenges to have the highest quality of life possible is at the heart of their work.

How does the MCSTAP service work? The service is free and any Massachusetts primary care physician can call 1-833-PAIN-SUD (1-833-724-6783). After basic information about the practice and the patient is gathered a MCSTAP physician consultant who has extensive academic and clinical expertise in safe prescribing and managing care for patients with chronic pain and substance use disorder assists the provider in one of the following ways:

  • Medication management related to medication-assisted treatment, opioids, and non-opioid pain medications.
  • Pain Management strategies, including non-pharmaceutical treatment of pain.
  • Addressing the needs of specific populations like pregnant women with substance use disorders and people with co-occurring diagnoses
  • Resource and referral information about community-based providers, programs, and services to support patients with either chronic pain or substance use disorders.

MSCTAP is a no cost service that is funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services through its contract with the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership. This service is available to all clinicians in a Massachusetts primary care practice and assists those providers in caring for all patients with chronic pain and/or substance use disorders regardless of the patient’s insurance coverage.

How are MCSTAP and the NER working together? In addition to providing evidence-based consultation and clinical monitoring, MCSTAP provides in-person and internet-based didactic workshop sessions to clinicians on salient topics. The funds awarded to MCSTAP by the NER as part of this grant pay for the cost of the CME credits for participating clinicians who attend a web-based, monthly Case Review Call-in Hour, during which the MCSTAP medical director discusses recent MCSTAP consultations with key teaching points and participants can discuss cases of concern related to chronic pain and/or substance use disorder. Any clinician can participate in the monthly Case Review Call-in Hours. It is important to note that in the case reviews do not jeopardize patient confidentiality as all information that could identify a patient is removed.

What are some of the topics that have been discussed during the Monthly Care Reviews?  Here are a few from recent months:

  • How to treat a patient with chronic pain and an unexpected drug screening result?
  • Use of buprenorphine for a patient with opioid use disorder
  • How to manage a lost prescription for a patient with chronic back pain

MSSTAP is also offering their expertise to the NER through a webinar that is coming up on January 28, 2021, 2-3PM. Dr, Christopher Shanahan, MCSTAP’s Medical Director, will be discussing the challenges and changes to substance use disorder treatment during this time of COVID. You can learn more about the webinar and register for it at the following link https://nnlm.gov/class/substance-use-disorder-treatment-time-covid/29150.  Medical librarians and nurses are eligible for continuing education credit for attending this webinar, for more information about CE credit, see the following link to be sure your state participates in issuing nursing continuing education credit – bit.ly/2xIGm6o.


Image of the author ABOUT Susan Halpin

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NNLM Region 7
University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-5985

This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.

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