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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Aug 2023 - 1 Sep 2023

Clinical, Psychology

Human Studies, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development


2023 Aug 25



STRategies to Improve Pain and Enjoy life (STRIPE): results of a pragmatic randomized trial of pain coping skills training and opioid medication taper guidance for patients on long-term opioid therapy.


Wartko PD, Krakauer C, Turner JA, Cook AJ, Boudreau DM, Sullivan MD


Because long-term opioid therapy (LtOT) for chronic pain has uncertain benefits and dose-dependent harms, safe and effective strategies for opioid tapering are needed. Adapting a promising pilot study intervention, we conducted the STRategies to Improve Pain and Enjoy life (STRIPE) pragmatic clinical trial. Patients in integrated health system on moderate-to-high dose of LtOT for chronic noncancer pain were randomized individually to usual care plus intervention (n = 79) or usual care only (n = 74). The intervention included pain coping skills training and optional support for opioid taper, delivered in 18 telephone sessions over a year, with pharmacologic guidance provided to participants’ primary care providers by a pain physician. Coprimary outcomes were daily opioid dose (morphine milligram equivalent [MME]), calculated using pharmacy dispensing data, and the self-reported Pain, Enjoyment of Life and General Activity scale at 12 months (primary time point) and 6 months. Secondary outcomes included opioid misuse, opioid difficulties, opioid craving, pain self-efficacy, and global impression of change, depression, and anxiety. Only 41% randomized to the intervention completed all sessions. We did not observe significant differences between intervention and usual care for MME (adjusted mean difference: -2.3 MME; 95% confidence interval: -10.6, 5.9; P = 0.578), the Pain, Enjoyment of Life, General Activity scale (0.0 [95% confidence interval: -0.5, 0.5], P = 0.985), or most secondary outcomes. The intervention did not lower opioid dose or improve pain or functioning. Other strategies are needed to reduce opioid doses while improving pain and function for patients who have been on LtOT for years with high levels of medical, mental health, and substance use comorbidity.