Opioid use as a predictor of health care use and pain outcomes: Analysis of clinical trial data

Erin E. Krebs, Kurt Kroenke, Jingwei Wu, Matthew J. Bair, Mary Ann Kozak, Zhangsheng Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective. To examine effects of pre-enrollment opioid use on outcomes of a 12-month collaborative pain care management trial. We hypothesized that participants with opioid use would have worse pain at baseline; use more health care services and analgesics; and have worse pain outcomes during the trial. Design. Secondary analysis of randomized con- trolled trial data. Setting. Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care. Subjects. Patients age 18-65 years with chronic pain of at least moderate severity who were enrolled in a 12-month pragmatic trial of a telephone-based collaborative care intervention for chronic musculoskeletal pain. Methods. Participants were categorized as opioid users (n = 84) or non-users (n = 166) at baseline and trial randomization was stratified by opioid use. We used logistic regression to examine cross-sectional associations with baseline opioid use and mixed-effect models for repeated measures to examine baseline opioid use as a predictor of Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) scores over 12 months. Results. At baseline, 33.6% reported use of prescribed opioids. Baseline opioid users had higher baseline BPI scores and higher health-related disability than non-users. Baseline opioid users also had more outpatient visits (15.0 vs. 10.1; p = 0.001) and received more analgesics (p < 0.001) during the trial. In the final multivariable model examining effects of baseline opioid use on BPI over 12 months, opioid users and nonusers had a non-significant difference of 0.25 points (p = 0.098). In conclusion, although baseline opioid users had worse pain at baseline and used more health care during the study, response to the intervention was not significantly modified by pre-existing opioid therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1261-1268
Number of pages8
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Academy of Pain Medicine.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Chronic pain
  • Opioid analgesics
  • Primary care

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