A chronic opioid therapy dose reduction policy in primary care

Melissa Weimer, Daniel M. Hartung, Sharia Ahmed, Christina Nicolaidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: High-dose opioids prescribed for the treatment of chronic pain have been associated with increased risk of opioid overdose. Health systems and states have responded by developing opioid dose limitation policies. Little is known about how these policies affect prescribing practices or characteristics of patients who respond best to opioid tapers from high-dose opioids. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study to evaluate change in total opioid dose after the implementation of a provider education intervention and a 120 mg morphine equivalents per day (MED) opioid dose limitation policy in one academic primary care clinic. We compared opioid prescriptions 1 year before and 1 year after the intervention. We used univariate and multivariate logistic regression to assess which patient characteristics predicted opioid dose reduction from high opioid dose. Results: Out of a total of 516 patients prescribed chronic opioid therapy, 116 patients (22%) were prescribed high-dose opioid therapy (>120 mg MED). After policy adoption, the average daily dose of opioids declined by 64 mg MED (95% confidence interval [CI]: 32-96; P

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016


  • chronic opioid therapy
  • Chronic pain
  • morphine equivalent per day

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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