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Care management practices for chronic pain in veterans prescribed high doses of opioid medications.

Morasco BJ, Cavanagh R, Gritzner S, Dobscha SK. Care management practices for chronic pain in veterans prescribed high doses of opioid medications. Family Practice. 2013 Dec 1; 30(6):671-8.

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND: There is growing interest in the primary care management of patients with chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) who are prescribed long-term opioid therapy. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the care management practices and medical utilization of patients prescribed high doses of opioids relative to patients prescribed traditional doses of opioids. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of veterans who had CNCP in 2008 and reviewed medical care for the prior 2 years. Patients with CNCP who were prescribed high-dose opioid therapy ( = 180mg morphine equivalent per day for 90+ consecutive days; n = 60) were compared with patients prescribed traditional dose opioid therapy (5-179mg morphine equivalent per day for 90+ consecutive days; n = 60). RESULTS: Patients in the high-dose group had several aspects of documented care that differed from patients in the traditional dose group, including more medical visits, attempting an opioid taper, receiving a urine drug screen and developing a pain goal. The majority of variables that were assessed did not differ between groups, including documented assessments of functional status or co-morbid psychopathology, opioid rotation, discussion of treatment side effects, non-pharmacological treatments or collaboration with mental health or pain specialists. CONCLUSIONS: Further work is needed to identify mechanisms for optimizing care management for patients with CNCP who are prescribed high doses of opioid medications.





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