Screening tools to assess risk of opioid abuse in the primary healthcare setting

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University of New Brunswick


The prescribing of opioid therapy for patients suffering with chronic pain is increasing, along with rates of opioid abuse. With the advancement of the nurse practitioner scope of practice to include the prescribing of controlled substances, nurse practitioners who work in the primary healthcare settings are now initiating and managing chronic opioid therapy. To ensure that proper treatment and monitoring plans are implemented, nurse practitioners must be able to identify patients at risk of abuse or who are exhibiting aberrant drug related behaviors. There are many screening tools available to assess risk of abuse or identify aberrant drug related behaviors, however, only the Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain Revised and Current Opioid Misuse Measure tools have been cross-validated for their validity and reliability for chronic pain patients in primary healthcare settings. A brief review of screening tools is presented, and a recommendation on the consistent use of screening tools when prescribing chronic opioid therapy is discussed.