Characteristics of chronic noncancer pain patients assessed with the opioid risk tool in a Canadian tertiary care pain clinic

Pain Med. 2014 Oct;15(10):1743-9. doi: 10.1111/pme.12465. Epub 2014 May 16.


Background: The Opioid Risk Tool (ORT) is a screening instrument for assessing the risk of opioid-related aberrant behavior in chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) patients.

Objective: This study aims to compare patient characteristics documented in the original ORT study with those identified in CNCP patients assessed using a physician-administered ORT in a tertiary care pain clinic in Toronto, Canada.

Methodology: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study of 322 consecutive new patients referred over 12 months. Data extraction included ORT scores, demographics, pain ratings, opioid, and other medication use at point of entry, diagnosis, and other variables. Characteristics were compared with those described in the original ORT study.

Results: The total mean ORT scores of patients in this study were related to several demographic (gender, age, marital status, and country of birth) and nondemographic variables (employment status, cigarette smoking, and contribution of biomedical and/or psychological factors to presentation). Prevalence of characteristics noted in this patient sample differed substantially from that found in Webster and Webster as the basis for ORT scores.

Conclusion: Significant differences existed between this study population and the patient sample from which the ORT was derived. Limitations of this study are discussed. We concur with the authors of the original study that the ORT may not be applicable in different pain populations and settings. Based on our findings, we encourage caution in interpreting the ORT in general CNCP settings until further studies are performed.

Keywords: Chronic Noncancer Pain; Opioid Risk Tool; Opioids; Tertiary Care Center.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Pain Clinics / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tertiary Healthcare / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult