Original Research

Dialing back opioids for chronic pain one conversation at a time

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The tapering protocol in our study and the inclusion of behavioral health co-interventions are also recommended by the 2016 guidelines published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.17 More information on the similarities and differences among the various guidelines is available online.18,19

Caveats with our study. Patients’ entry into the Taper or MPC groups occurred through self-selection rather than random assignment. Thus, caution is recommended in interpreting findings of the FP intervention. And, we did not measure patients’ levels of pain, so differences between groups may have been possible. In addition, the number of patients per group was relatively small, which may have accounted for the lack of significance in the MPC Group findings. Conversely, significant reductions in opioid use in the small tapering sample suggests a relatively robust intervention, despite a lack of random assignment to treatment conditions.

These findings suggest that FPs can have a frank conversation about opioid use with their patients based on ethical principles and evidence-based practice, and employ a tapering protocol consistent with current opioid treatment guidelines. Furthermore, this approach appears not to jeopardize the patient-physician relationship.

Thomas P. Guck, PhD, Creighton University School of Medicine, 2412 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131; tpguck@creighton.edu.

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