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Defining problematic pharmaceutical opioid use among people prescribed opioids for chronic noncancer pain: do different measures identify the same patients?


Campbell, G and Bruno, R and Lintzeris, N and Cohen, M and Nielsen, S and Hall, W and Larance, B and Mattick, RP and Blyth, F and Farrell, M and Degenhardt, L, Defining problematic pharmaceutical opioid use among people prescribed opioids for chronic noncancer pain: do different measures identify the same patients?, Pain, 157, (7) pp. 1489-1498. ISSN 0304-3959 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 International Association for the Study of Pain

DOI: doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000548


The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) are routinely used in diagnosing illicit substance use disorders, but for people taking prescribed opioids they remain controversial. In pain medicine, the concept of "Addiction" is preferred with reduced emphasis on tolerance and withdrawal. This article examines the prevalence and characteristics of pharmaceutical opioid dependence/disorder according to ICD, DSM, and the pain medicine concept of "Addiction," among chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) patients prescribed opioids. In the current study, we used data from a national sample of 1134 people prescribed opioids for CNCP. Past 12-month "Addiction" (based on Pain Medicine definition), DSM, and ICD dependence definitions were assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Twenty-four percent of the cohort met the criteria for "Addiction," 18% for DSM-5 use disorder and 19% for ICD-11 dependence. There was "substantial" concordance between "Addiction" and both DSM-5 use disorder and ICD-11 dependence, although concordance was much greater with ICD-11 dependence (kappa 5 0.63 and 0.79, respectively). Participants meeting the criteria for "Addiction" only were older, less likely to engage in nonadherent behaviours, self-reported fewer problems or concerns with their medication, and had lower rates of psychological distress than those who also met the DSM-5 and ICD- 11 criteria. The definition of "Addiction" captures a larger group of patients than other classification systems and includes people with fewer "risk" behaviours. Despite removal of tolerance and withdrawal for prescribed opioid use for DSM-5, we found that "Addiction" was more closely related to an ICD-11 diagnosis of pharmaceutical opioid dependence.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:chronic noncancer pain, opioids, addiction, dependence
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Other psychology
Research Field:Other psychology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bruno, R (Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno)
ID Code:112889
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:National Health and Medical Research Council (APP1022522)
Web of Science® Times Cited:29
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2016-12-02
Last Modified:2018-03-23

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