Impact of Opioid Dose Reduction and Risk Mitigation Initiatives on Chronic Opioid Therapy Patients at Higher Risk for Opioid-Related Adverse Outcomes.

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We aimed to determine if opioid risk reduction initiatives including dose reduction and risk mitigation strategies for chronic noncancer pain patients receiving chronic opioid therapy (COT) had a differential impact on average daily opioid doses of COT patients at higher risk for opioid-related adverse outcomes compared with lower-risk patients.


Interrupted time series.


Group Health Cooperative (GH), a health care delivery system and insurance within Washington State, between 2006 and 2014.


GH enrollees on COT defined as receiving a supply of 70 or more days of opioids within 90 days using electronic pharmacy data for filled prescriptions.


We compared the average daily morphine equivalent doses (MED) of COT patients with and without each of the following higher-risk characteristics: mental disorders, substance use disorders, sedative use, and male gender.


In all four pairwise comparisons, the higher-risk subgroup had a higher average daily MED than the lower-risk subgroup across the study period. Adjusted for covariates, modest differences in the annual rate of reduction in average daily MED were noted between higher- and lower-risk subgroups in three pairwise comparisons: those with mental disorders vs without (-8.2 mg/y vs -5.2 mg/y, P = 0.005), with sedative use vs without (-9.2 mg/y vs -5.8 mg/y, P = 0.004); mg), in men vs women (-8.8 mg/y vs -5.9 mg/y, P = 0.01).


Using clinical policy initiatives in a health care system, dose reductions were achieved among COT patients at higher risk for opioid-related adverse outcomes that were at least as large as those among lower-risk patients.

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