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JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Sep 1;177(9):1265-1272. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.2468.

Improving Adherence to Long-term Opioid Therapy Guidelines to Reduce Opioid Misuse in Primary Care: A Cluster-Randomized Clinical Trial.

Author information

Section of General Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.
Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Dorchester House Community Health Center, Boston, Massachusetts.



Prescription opioid misuse is a national crisis. Few interventions have improved adherence to opioid-prescribing guidelines.


To determine whether a multicomponent intervention, Transforming Opioid Prescribing in Primary Care (TOPCARE;, improves guideline adherence while decreasing opioid misuse risk.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

Cluster-randomized clinical trial among 53 primary care clinicians (PCCs) and their 985 patients receiving long-term opioid therapy for pain. The study was conducted from January 2014 to March 2016 in 4 safety-net primary care practices.


Intervention PCCs received nurse care management, an electronic registry, 1-on-1 academic detailing, and electronic decision tools for safe opioid prescribing. Control PCCs received electronic decision tools only.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Primary outcomes included documentation of guideline-concordant care (both a patient-PCC agreement in the electronic health record and at least 1 urine drug test [UDT]) over 12 months and 2 or more early opioid refills. Secondary outcomes included opioid dose reduction (ie, 10% decrease in morphine-equivalent daily dose [MEDD] at trial end) and opioid treatment discontinuation. Adjusted outcomes controlled for differing baseline patient characteristics: substance use diagnosis, mental health diagnoses, and language.


Of the 985 participating patients, 519 were men, and 466 were women (mean [SD] patient age, 54.7 [11.5] years). Patients received a mean (SD) MEDD of 57.8 (78.5) mg. At 1 year, intervention patients were more likely than controls to receive guideline-concordant care (65.9% vs 37.8%; P < .001; adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 6.0; 95% CI, 3.6-10.2), to have a patient-PCC agreement (of the 376 without an agreement at baseline, 53.8% vs 6.0%; P < .001; AOR, 11.9; 95% CI, 4.4-32.2), and to undergo at least 1 UDT (74.6% vs 57.9%; P < .001; AOR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.8-5.0). There was no difference in odds of early refill receipt between groups (20.7% vs 20.1%; AOR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.7-1.8). Intervention patients were more likely than controls to have either a 10% dose reduction or opioid treatment discontinuation (AOR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.3-2.1; P < .001). In adjusted analyses, intervention patients had a mean (SE) MEDD 6.8 (1.6) mg lower than controls (P < .001).

Conclusions and Relevance:

A multicomponent intervention improved guideline-concordant care but did not decrease early opioid refills.

Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT01909076.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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