Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Guideline Resources

The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain was published in March 2016. It provides recommendations about the appropriate prescribing of opioid pain relievers and other treatment options to improve pain management and patient safety.

Find resources below that will help improve communication between providers and patients about the risks and benefits of opioid therapy for chronic pain, improve the safety and effectiveness of pain treatment, and reduce the risks associated with long-term opioid therapy, including opioid use disorder, overdose, and death.


*We gratefully acknowledge the work that Ariadne Labs has provided to help produce this educational resource. Listed are those who have contributed to development of this checklist: Chris Barnes, BA; Bill Berry, MD, MPA, MPH; Asaf Bitton, MD, MPH; Atul Gawande, MD, MPH; Lisa Hirschhorn, MD, MPH; Jane Liebschutz, MD, MPH; and Roger Weiss, MD

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.

Additional Resources from HHS

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made it a priority to address opioid abuse, dependence, and overdose. Several agencies within HHS have joined the effort