Objective: This study aims to assess associations between morphine-equivalent daily dose (MEDD) of opioids, clinician and patient characteristics, and prescriber adherence to guidelines for long-term opioid therapy (LTOT) in chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) and to elucidate potential relationships associated with increased-risk opioid prescribing. Design: Retrospective cross-sectional study. Setting: Academic health system's 33 primary care clinics. Patients: Adults (≥18 years old) prescribed LTOT (10 + outpatient prescriptions in the past year) for CNCP. Main outcome measure(s): Electronic health record data on prescribed opioids (for MEDD), clinician/patient characteristics, and adherence rates to LTOT guideline-concordant recommendations. Results: A total of 2,738 patients were eligible, 61.6 percent Lower, 15.7 percent Moderate, and 22.7 percent Higher Risk MEDD (<50, 50-89, and ≥90 mg/day, respectively). Higher MEDD correlated (p < 0.001) with Medicare insurance, current cigarette smoking, higher pain intensity and interference scores, and the presence of opioid use disorder diagnoses. Male clinicians more frequently prescribed (p < 0.001) and male patients were more likely to be prescribed (p < 0.001) higher MEDD compared to their female counterparts. Higher Risk MEDD was associated with higher coprescribed benzodiazepines (p = 0.015), lower depression screening (p = 0.048), urine drug testing (p = 0.003), comparable active treatment agreement (p = 0.189), opioid misuse risk screening (p = 0.619), and prescription drug monitoring checks (p = 0.203). Conclusions: This study documented that higher MEDD was associated with risks of worse health outcomes without improved adherence to opioid prescribing guideline recommendations. Enhanced clinician awareness of factors associated with MEDD has the potential to mitigate LTOT risks and improve overall patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-422
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Opioid Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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