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Ann Fam Med. 2010 May-Jun;8(3):237-44. doi: 10.1370/afm.1114.

Chronic opioid therapy and preventive services in rural primary care: an Oregon rural practice-based research network study.

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  • 1Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239, USA.



For clinicians, using opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) often gives rise to a conflict between treating their patients' pain and fears of addiction, diversion of medication, or legal action. Consequent stresses on clinical encounters might adversely affect some elements of clinical care. We evaluated a possible association between chronic opioid therapy (COT) for CNCP and receipt of various preventive services.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study in 7 primary care clinics within the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN). Using medical records of 704 patients, aged 35 to 85 years, seen during a 3-year period, we compared the receipt of 4 preventive services between patients on COT for CNCP and patients not on chronic opioid therapy (non-COT). We used multivariate log-binomial regression analyses to estimate the relative risk of receipt of each preventive service.


After adjustment for plausible confounders, we found that patients using COT had a statistically significantly lower relative risk (RR) of receipt of cervical cancer screening (RR = 0.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.47-0.76) and colorectal cancer screening (RR = 0.42; 95% CI, 0.22-0.80) when compared with non-COT patients. The RR was reduced, without statistical significance, for lipid screening (RR = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.54-1.10), and not notably reduced for smoking cessation counseling (RR = 0.95; 95% CI, 0.78-1.15).


Patients using COT for CNCP were less likely to receive some preventive services. Research is needed to better understand barriers to and improved methods for providing preventive services for these patients.

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