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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

	COCA Webinar Series: Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic PainCOCA Call Webinar Series

CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) has partnered with CDC’s Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) and the University of Washington to present a webinar series about the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. The series will cover when and how opioids should be initiated for chronic pain, how to assess risk and address harms of opioid use, and when and how opioids should be discontinued. Faculty and clinicians from the University of Washington will provide insight into the application of the Guideline in clinical settings.

The COCA Call series will start with four webinars on the specified dates below, from 2:00 to 3:00 PM ET. Click on the webinar title for participant information and materials, as well as the archived, on-demand recordings after each live webcast.

Webinar #

Live Webcast Date



June 22, 2016

Overview of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain


July 27, 2016

Nonopioid Treatments for Chronic Pain


August 3, 2016

Assessing Benefits and Harms of Opioid Therapy


August 17, 2016

Dosing and Titration of Opioids

Webinar Series Objectives

CDC's Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain: Webinar Series Objectives

Future Webinars

Additional webinars are in development that will focus on risk mitigation strategies, assessment of opioid use disorder and referral to evidence-based treatment, and effective communication with patients about opioid therapy. More details on dates and times will be provided as they become available.

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

	Assess. Manage. Monitor. Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain