The impact of chronic pain on opioid addiction treatment: a systematic review protocol

Syst Rev. 2015 Apr 16;4:49. doi: 10.1186/s13643-015-0042-2.


Background: The consequences of opioid relapse among patients being treated with opioid substitution treatment (OST) are serious and can result in abnormal cardiovascular function, overdose, and mortality. Chronic pain is a major risk factor for opioid relapse within the addiction treatment setting. There exist a number of opioid maintenance therapies including methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and levomethadyl acetate (LAAM), of which the mediating effects of pain on treatment attrition, substance use behavior, and social functioning may differ across therapies. We aim to 1) evaluate the impact of pain on the treatment outcomes of addiction patients being managed with OST and 2) identify the most recently published opioid maintenance treatment guidelines from the United States, Canada, and the UK to determine how the evidence is being translated into clinical practice.

Methods/design: The authors will search Medline, EMBASE, PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, ProQuest Dissertations and theses Database, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform Search Portal, and the National Institutes for Health Clinical Trials Registry. We will search www.

Guidelines: gov and the National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) databases to identify the most recently published OST guidelines. All screening and data extraction will be completed in duplicate. Provided the data are suitable, we will perform a multiple treatment comparison using Bayesian meta-analytic methods to produce summary statistics estimating the effect of chronic pain on all OSTs. Our primary outcome is substance use behavior, which includes opioid and non-opioid substance use. We will also evaluate secondary endpoints such as treatment retention, general physical health, intervention adherence, personal and social functioning, as well as psychiatric symptoms.

Discussion: This review will capture the experience of treatment outcomes for a sub-population of opioid addiction patients and provide an opportunity to distinguish the best quality guidelines for OST. If chronic pain truly does result in negative consequences for opioid addiction patients, it is important we identify which OSTs are most appropriate for chronic pain patients as well as ensure the treatment guidelines incorporate this information.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42014014015

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Chronic Pain* / complications
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Humans
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Recurrence
  • Research Design
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


  • Analgesics, Opioid