Usefulness of the opioid risk tool to predict aberrant drug-related behavior in patients receiving opioids for the treatment of chronic pain


  • Lisa R. Witkin, MD University of Pennsylvania Anesthesiology and Critical Care 680 Dulles Building HUP 3400 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-893-7251 215-893-7270 (fax)
  • Dina Diskina, BS University of Pennsylvania Anesthesiology and Critical Care 680 Dulles Building HUP 3400 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-893-7251 215-893-7270 (fax)
  • Shawn Fernandes, BS University of Pennsylvania Biostatistics Analytics Center 423 Guardian Drive, Room 816 Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-573-8928 215-573-5315 (fax)
  • John T. Farrar, MD, PhD University of Pennsylvania Anesthesiology and Neurology Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatics 423 Guardian Drive Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-573-8928 215-573-5315 (fax)
  • Michael A. Ashburn, MD, MPH Penn Pain Medicine Center Anesthesiology and Critical Care 1840 South Street Philadelphia, PA 19146 215-893-7251 215-893-7270 (fax)



Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine if the opioid risk tool (ORT) was clinically useful in guiding physician decision making during chronic opioid therapy and to determine whether there were differences between the patientcompleted and physician-completed ORT.

Design: Retrospective review of prospectively collected data.

Setting: A single-center tertiary care outpatient pain management center.

Patients, participants: One-hundred twenty-five patients who received chronic opioids as part of their pain therapy.

Interventions: Patients receiving care were asked to complete the ORT as part of their initial evaluation. In addition, as part of this study, a pain physician reviewed the information available at the time of the initial evaluation and completed the ORT. Medical records were reviewed for evidence of moderate-to-severe aberrant drug-related behavior (ADRB), according to specified criteria.

Main outcome measures: Patient-completed and physician-completed ORT and presence or absence of moderate to severe ADRB.

Results: Of the 125 patients included in this study, physician-completed ORT was available for 125 patients, and a patient-completed ORT was available on 87 of these patients. There was good correlation between the patient-completed and physician-completed ORT (correlation coefficient = 0.61). There were 112 observations of ADRB in 53 of 125 patients (42.4 percent) during the observation period of an average of 7.8 months (range 2-17 months). Of these 53 patients, 32 (60.4 percent) were identified by urine drug screen (UDS) alone, 7 (13.2 percent) were identified by physician observation alone, and 14 (26.4 percent) were identified by both UDS and physician observation. Based on the physician-completed ORT, 41 of 106 (38.7 percent) low risk patients had ADRB, compared to 8 of 14 (57.1 percent) moderate risk, and 4 of 5 (80 percent) high risk patients.

Conclusions: Neither the patient-completed nor the physician-completed ORT was strongly predictive of moderate-to-severe ADRB in patients receiving chronic opioid therapy for the treatment of noncancer pain in our pain center.

Keywords: aberrant drug-related behavior, opioid risk tool, risk assessment tools



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How to Cite

Witkin, MD, L. R., D. Diskina, BS, S. Fernandes, BS, J. T. Farrar, MD, PhD, and M. A. Ashburn, MD, MPH. “Usefulness of the Opioid Risk Tool to Predict Aberrant Drug-Related Behavior in Patients Receiving Opioids for the Treatment of Chronic Pain”. Journal of Opioid Management, vol. 9, no. 3, May 2013, p. 177—187, doi:10.5055/jom.2013.0159.