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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Nov 2019 - 29 Nov 2019

Human Studies

2020 Mar




Reducing the use of opioids by patients with chronic pain: an effectiveness study with long-term follow-up.


Nicholas MK, Asghari A, Sharpe L, Beeston L, Brooker C, Glare P, Martin R, Molloy A, Wrigley PJ
Pain. 2020 Mar; 161(3):509-519.
PMID: 31764391.


This paper addresses the problem of long-term opioid use by chronic pain patients. The study involved a secondary analysis of unanalysed data from a published study of two versions of CBT-based interdisciplinary treatment for chronic pain. In this paper we examined whether the use of opioids by 140 chronic pain patients could be ceased sustainably over 12-months following participation in the comprehensive interdisciplinary pain management program aimed at enhancing pain self-management. On admission to the treatment there were no significant differences between those patients taking or not taking opioids on usual pain, pain interference in daily activities, pain-related disability, depression severity, as well as in pain cognitions. Following the treatment the use of opioids was significantly reduced, both in numbers taking any and in mean doses, and these gains were maintained over the 12-month follow-up. Finally, cessation of opioids during treatment was associated with more substantial and consistent improvements in usual pain, depression severity, pain interference, pain-related disability, and pain cognitions, relative to those who reduced their opioids but did not cease them. These findings support the idea of using training in pain self-management strategies as a viable alternative to long-term opioid use by patients with chronic pain.