Few Valid Tools to Identify Pain Patients Who Can Be Safely Prescribed Opioids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jan Klimas, PhD, MScSenior Postdoctoral FellowBC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) Vancouver, BC

Dr. Klimas

Jan Klimas, PhD, MSc
Senior Postdoctoral Fellow
BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU)
Vancouver, BC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Some individuals prescribed opioid analgesic medications for pain develop opioid use disorder. So, much research has been conducted to develop strategies to identify patients who can be safely prescribed opioid analgesics. However, this research has not been critically reviewed through rigorous quality assessment.

This study therefore sought to identify signs, symptoms & screening tools to identify patients with pain who can be safely prescribed opioids 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: There are few valid ways to identify pain patients who can be safely prescribed opioid analgesics. The risk screening tools that are in widespread use are based on low quality studies and/or are not helpful.

Based on a single study, a history of opioid or non-opioid use disorder, a mental health diagnosis and concomitant prescription of certain psychiatric medications may increase the risk of prescription opioid addiction.

Only the absence of a mood disorder appeared useful for modestly identifying lower risk patients.

No disclosures. 


Klimas J, Gorfinkel L, Fairbairn N, et al. Strategies to Identify Patient Risks of Prescription Opioid Addiction When Initiating Opioids for PainA Systematic ReviewJAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(5):e193365. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.3365


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