Systematic review to determine which validated measurement tools can be used to assess risk of problematic analgesic use in patients with chronic pain

R. Lawrence (Lead / Corresponding author), D. Mogford, L. Colvin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Misuse of prescription opioids, and other drugs prescribed for chronic pain, has increased, with major concerns about harm. This review was undertaken to identify validated measurement tools for risk assessment and monitoring of chronic non-cancer pain patients being considered for, or currently prescribed, analgesic drugs with abuse potential.

Methods: Selected databases (Embase, Medline, Cochrane library/CENTRAL, PsycINFO, PubMed, CINAHL) were systematically searched for studies evaluating tools for risk of analgesic misuse, either before, or during, analgesic therapy for chronic pain, using predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria. Two independent reviewers assessed abstracts, selected full texts, extracted data and assessed quality.

Results: 30 studies from 1844 met inclusion criteria, including three systematic reviews, with an additional four studies from bibliography review. The studies covered 14 tools pertaining to opioid use, with none for non-opioid analgesics. Although there is no single, clear factor identifying opioid misuse, previous substance misuse appears important. Deception, including lying to clinicians, and using drugs belonging to others are common features. Smoking history may be relevant.

Conclusions: For predicting prescription opioid misuse, the pain medication questionnaire (PMQ) and the screener and opioid assessment for patients with pain (SOAPP) had the best evidence; both developed and validated in five separate studies (four each of acceptable quality). The current opioid misuse measure (COMM) performed best screening for current misuse, developed and validated in three studies of acceptable quality. A small number of tools may accurately predict, or identify, opioid misuse. There are none for non-opioid analgesics, where there is a potential need.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1092-1109
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number6
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • analgesics, non-narcotic
  • analgesics, opioid
  • chronic pain
  • opioid-related disorders
  • pain
  • risk assessment
  • substance-related disorder


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