Purpose: For patients receiving long-term opioid therapy (LtOT), the impact of guideline-concordant care on important clinical outcomes--notably mortality--is largely unknown, even among patients with a high comorbidity and mortality burden (e.g., HIV-infected patients). Our objective was to determine the association between receipt of guideline-concordant LtOT and 1-year all-cause mortality.
Methods: Among HIV-infected and uninfected patients initiating LtOT between 2000 and 2010 through the Department of Veterans Affairs, we used Cox regression with time-updated covariates and propensity-score matched analyses to examine the association between receipt of guideline-concordant care and 1-year all-cause mortality.
Results: Of 17,044 patients initiating LtOT between 2000 and 2010, 1048 patients (6%) died during 1 year of follow-up. Patients receiving psychotherapeutic co-interventions (hazard ratio [HR] 0.62; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.51-0.75; P < 0.001) or physical rehabilitative therapies (HR 0.81; 95% CI 0.67-0.98; P = 0.03) had a decreased risk of all-cause mortality compared to patients not receiving these services, whereas patients prescribed benzodiazepines concurrent with opioids had a higher risk of mortality (HR 1.39; 95% CI 1.12-1.66; P < 0.001). Among patients with a current substance use disorder (SUD), those receiving SUD treatment had a lower risk of mortality than untreated patients (HR 0.47; 95% CI 0.32-0.68; P = < 0.001). No association was found between all-cause mortality and primary care visits (HR 1.12; 95% CI 0.90-1.26; P = 0.32) or urine drug testing (HR 0.96; 95% CI 0.78-1.17; P = 0.67).
Conclusions: Providers should use caution in initiating LtOT in conjunction with benzodiazepines and untreated SUDs. Patients receiving LtOT may benefit from multi-modal treatment that addresses chronic pain and its associated comorbidities across multiple disciplines.
Keywords: Opioid analgesics; mortality; pain; practice guideline; quality of health care.