Clinicians report reluctance to deliver opioid-tapering advice to patients with chronic pain, in part due to concerns that patients will be angry and dissatisfied. An experiment was conducted to examine chronic pain patients' emotional and attitudinal responses to simulated opioid-tapering advice. Patients scheduled for an initial assessment at a tertiary pain clinic and currently taking opioid medications for pain (N = 196) were randomly assigned to view video footage of a standardized patient receiving 1 of 3 forms of treatment advice: (1) stay on current medication (2) change to a different pain medication, or (3) taper off pain medications and participate in a CBT-based pain self-management program. Participants reported how positive/enthusiastic, anxious/worried, and angry/irritable they felt in response to the simulated treatment advice, and how satisfied with and willing they would be to accept and follow the advice. Participants expressed more positive emotional and attitudinal responses to simulated opioid-tapering advice than to simulated opioid-maintenance advice. Furthermore, participants' responses to simulated opioid-tapering and opioid-change advice were not significantly different, suggesting that participants responded positively to the prospect of change in treatment strategy. Additional analyses revealed that participants with a longer history of chronic pain and opioid use responded less positively to simulated opioid-tapering advice. The results of this study contribute to our understanding of factors that may shape chronic pain patients' responses to opioid-tapering advice and suggest that patients may respond more positively to opioid-tapering advice if it is presented together with an alternative treatment approach.
Patients with chronic pain responded favourably to simulated treatment advice scenarios involving a change in treatment approach, even when this change involved opioid tapering.
Faculty of Medicine and Health, Pain Management Research Institute, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Corresponding author. Address: Faculty of medicine and Health, Pain Management Research Institute, The University of Sydney, Lvl 2 Douglas Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, Australia 2065. Tel.: +61 2 94631528. E-mail address: Claire.email@example.com (C.E. Ashton-James).
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Received October 22, 2018
Received in revised form December 31, 2018
Accepted January 16, 2019