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JGIM Supplement: Opioid Safety among Veterans with Chronic Pain and Addiction

December 14, 2020

Overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly-manufactured fentanyl analogues, took the lives of nearly 47,000 Americans in 2018, with 32% of those deaths involving prescription opioids. Moreover, the rate of opioid overdose deaths among Veterans is double that of the general population. In the fall of 2019, VA HSR&D convened a state-of-the-art (SOTA) conference – “Effective Management of Pain and Addiction: Strategies to Improve Opioid Safety” – to develop research and clinical policy recommendations for advancing the science and clinical practice of opioid safety, including both the use of opioid analgesics and managing opioid use disorder (OUD).* Funded by HSR&D, this Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) Supplement presents recommendations from the SOTA, as well as original research papers on opioid safety across the VA healthcare system. Articles in this supplement include, but are not limited to:

  • Chang and colleagues report on the use of Evidence-Based Quality Improvement (EBQI) as a promising implementation strategy for expanding access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in primary care settings, where the capacity to expand needed treatment is greatest.
  • Frank and colleagues highlight the clinical and policy recommendations related to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) – and propose reducing barriers to MOUD access through measures such as allowing expanded telehealth options for engaging and retaining patients in MOUD. With its nation-wide Video Connect system VA is well-positioned to respond to access challenges deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Morasco and colleagues explored factors associated with dose increase in long-term opioid therapy, a key to preventing the number of patients who require a taper in the first place.

Effective Management of Pain and Addiction: Strategies to Improve Opioid Safety. Journal of General Internal Medicine. December 2020;35 (Suppl 3).

*Find more information on outcomes and products from the Opioid Safety SOTA here.

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