Improving the management of chronic pain, opioid use, and opioid use disorder in older adults: study protocol for I-COPE study

Trials. 2022 Jul 27;23(1):602. doi: 10.1186/s13063-022-06537-w.


Background: Older adults with chronic pain, opioid use, and opioid use disorder (OUD) present complex management decisions in primary care. Clinical tools are needed to improve care delivery. This study protocol describes the planned implementation and evaluation of I-COPE (Improving Chicago Older Adult Opioid and Pain Management through Patient-centered Clinical Decision Support and Project ECHO®) to improve care for this population.

Methods: This study uses a pragmatic, expanding cohort stepped-wedge design to assess the outcomes. The study will be implemented in 35 clinical sites across metropolitan Chicago for patients aged ≥ 65 with chronic pain, opioid use, or OUD who receive primary care at one of the clinics. I-COPE includes the integration of patient-reported data on symptoms and preferences, clinical decision support tools, and a shared decision-making tool into routine primary care for more effective management of chronic pain, opioid prescribing, and OUD in older adults. Primary care providers will be trained through web-based videos and an optional Project ECHO® course, entitled "Pain Management and OUD in Older Adults." The RE-AIM framework will be used to assess the I-COPE implementation. Effectiveness outcomes will include an increased variety of recommended pain treatments, decreased prescriptions of higher-risk pain treatments, and decreased patient pain scores. All outcomes will be evaluated 6 and 12 months after implementation. PCPs participating in Project ECHO® will be evaluated on changes in knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy using pre- and post-course surveys.

Discussion: This study will provide evidence about the effectiveness of collecting patient-reported data on symptoms and treatment preferences and providing clinical decision support and shared decision-making tools to improve management for older adults with chronic pain, opioid use, and OUD.

Trial registration: NCT04878562 .

Keywords: Chronic pain; Electronic health records; Older adults; Opioid use; Primary health care.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Chronic Pain* / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain* / drug therapy
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'


  • Analgesics, Opioid

Associated data