Quality of life in patients receiving opioid maintenance therapy. A comparative study of slow-release morphine versus methadone treatment

Eur Addict Res. 2008;14(2):99-105. doi: 10.1159/000113724. Epub 2008 Mar 11.


Background/aims: In recent years, quality of life (QoL) assessments have proved useful for evaluating and comparing drug treatment programs. To compare QoL of patients maintained on methadone versus slow-release morphine, a prospective, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, cross-over study was conducted.

Methods: Over two 7-week study phases, participants received either oral slow-release morphine capsules followed by methadone oral solution or vice versa. QoL status was assessed at baseline, week 7, and week 14 using the German version of the Lancashire Quality of Life Profile.

Results: No statistically significant difference was found between methadone and slow-release morphine in any QoL domain. A significant time effect for nearly all QoL domains was observed after 14 weeks of opioid medication, independent of the chosen drug (general well-being, p < 0.001; mental health, p = 0.001; general state of health, p = 0.018; leisure time at home, p = 0.034; leisure time out of the home, p = 0.008). Furthermore, this study revealed that even short-term maintenance yields significantly higher QoL scores in the important domain of general well-being.

Conclusion: These results indicate that slow-release morphine has effects comparable to methadone on patient-reported QoL data and is thus a promising option for treatment of opioid-dependent subjects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life / psychology*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Morphine
  • Methadone