Process for Updating the Opioid Prescribing Guideline

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Patients with pain deserve safe and effective pain management.

Pain, particularly chronic pain, can lead to impaired physical functioning, poor mental health, and a reduced quality of life. It contributes to substantial morbidity and mortality in the United States each year. Chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States and the economic costs are staggering—$560 to $635 billion dollars annually.1

A key aim of pain management is the provision of individualized, patient-centered care that focuses on optimizing function and supporting activities of daily living. CDC provides guidance to clinicians, as well as tools and resources for patients and clinicians, to help advance comprehensive pain care. One key way we do promote patient-centered pain care is through the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. In this context, our ultimate goal is to help people set and achieve personal goals to reduce pain and improve function.

The 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids is being updated.

In the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, CDC indicated the intent to re-evaluate the Guideline as new evidence became available and to determine when sufficient new evidence might prompt an update. CDC has stayed abreast of new research as it became available since 2016 and conducted formal reviews of new available evidence on noninvasive, nonpharmacological treatment and nonopioid pharmacological treatment of chronic pain. As a result of these reviews, CDC determined that an update of the Guideline, and an expansion to certain acute conditions, was warranted.

The update process uses multiple key sources of input.

The 2016 Guideline was developed using the best available scientific evidence and followed a rigorous scientific process. The update to the Guideline is following a similar process and includes several opportunities for community and partner engagement. CDC highly values public engagement and has ensured there are multiple opportunities to hear from and incorporate feedback from patients with pain, caregivers, clinicians, and partners.

Sources of input used to inform the update of the Guideline include:

CDC carefully considers all input when revising the draft updated Guideline. Release of a final updated Guideline is anticipated in late 2022, along with a suite of translation and communication resources to facilitate effective implementation.

The following graphic provides an estimated timeline for the opportunities for engagement outlined above; if the timeline needs to be adjusted, changes will be reflected here.

Stay In Touch

Please continue to check this page for ongoing updates.

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CDC anticipates that the draft updated Guideline will be posted in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period by early 2022. This comment period will provide another critical opportunity for diverse input from the public.

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Commonly Used Terms
    • Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (BSC/NCIPC)
      The Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (BSC/NCIPC) is one of the federal advisory committees of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The BSC/NCIPC advises the HHS Secretary; the CDC Director; and the NCIPC Director regarding surveillance; basic epidemiologic research; intervention research; and implementation, dissemination, and evaluation of promising and evidence-based strategies for the prevention of injury and violence. The BSC/NCIPC makes recommendations regarding policies, strategies, objectives, projects, and priorities and reviews progress toward injury and violence prevention.
    • Federal Advisory Committee
      Federal advisory committees are a key component of CDC’s overall strategy to achieve external stakeholder and public engagement in its efforts and commitment to improve people’s health. They provide advice or recommendations to the President of the United States or the agency on issues or policies within the scope of an agency’s responsibilities.
    • Federal Register Notice (FRN)
      The Federal Register external iconis the official journal of the United States Government. It provides legal notice of administrative rules and notices and Presidential documents in a comprehensive, uniform manner. A Federal Register Notice (FRN) is a specific post to the Federal Register. The Federal Register helps citizens and communities understand regulatory processes and participate in government decision-making processes. The website includes notices, proposed rules, and rules for comment across various federal agencies and topic areas. Here are resources to help navigate the website and commentary process:
      Federal Register – Reader Aids – Using FederalRegister.Govexternal icon
      Federal Register – Reader Aids – Videos & Tutorialsexternal icon
    • Public Comment
      For this effort, public comment opportunities include (a) the FRNs posted for community engagement on the experiences of patients, caregivers, and clinicians with the management of chronic and acute pain, (b) the multiple BSC/NCIPC meetings, and (c) the posting of the updated draft Guideline in the Federal Register.
    • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
      The mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)external icon is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.
  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education. Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.
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