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An evaluation of the performance of the Opioid Manager clinical tool in primary care: A qualitative study

Andrew Robertson, BSc, MD (Candidate), Sander L. Hitzig, PhD, Andrea D. Furlan, MD, PhD


Aims: The Opioid Manager (OM) is a point-of-care paper tool for physicians, which summarizes the Canadian Guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain. To evaluate the efficacy of the OM, there is a need to better understand how physicians are using the OM, and how it is relevant to their practice.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with six family physicians in Ontario with clinical pain management experience. The interviews were analyzed using content analysis. The technique of “code-recode” was conducted by two analysts to verify content validity.

Results: The following main themes emerged: 1) OM as a communication tool; 2) OM as an educational tool; 3) OM as a clinical tool; 4) OM content/design; 5) OM benefits; 6) who the OM is used with; 7) OM potential; and 8) challenges of pain management. Physicians' commented the OM was a useful reference for helping their clinical decision making regarding opioids, and used it to educate and communicate with their patients/colleagues. Although many felt the content/design of the OM had a number of good features, there was a need for modifications (ie, merge with other tools and create electronic version). Given the challenges associated with pain management, a number of benefits were derived from using the OM (ie, protection and building therapeutic alliance), and respondents' felt the tool had the potential to meet a number of unmet needs related to opioid management.

Conclusions: Overall, the OM was viewed positively for improving pain management practices but further work is required to refine the tool's potential.


chronic pain, opioids, primary care, qualitative methodology, interviews, family physicians

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