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Common Elements in Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

Improving the way opioids are prescribed through clinical practice guidelines can ensure patients have access to safe, effective treatment while reducing the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose from these powerful drugs.

CDC partnered with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), to review existing opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain and identify common elements.

The guidelines reviewed represent a sample of those developed before 2013 by professional societies, states, or Federal agencies for general practitioners (not for specific conditions, subpopulations, or specialists). Specific recommendations from each of the guidelines were reviewed, extracted, and coded into categories of common provider actions. The review of common elements found in guidelines can be seen here: Common Elements in Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.

This review is intended to enhance the use of evidence-based guidelines by:

  • Informing agencies, providers, and medical/professional organizations about evidence-based practices that can improve patient outcomes.
  • Providing states, federal agencies, and other organizations with a review of recommendations so that they can better develop implementation tools for providers, such as clinical decision support in electronic health records.
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