Identifying appropriate outcomes to help evaluate the impact of the Canadian Guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Non-Cancer Pain Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract Background The Canadian Guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain (COG) was developed in response to increasing rates of opioid-related hospital visits and deaths in Canada, and uncertain benefits of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP). Following publication, we developed a list of evaluable outcomes to assess the impact of this guideline on practice and patient outcomes. Methods A working group at the National Pain Centre at McMaster University used a modified Delphi process to construct a list of clinical and patient outcomes important in assessing the uptake and application of the COG. An advisory group then reviewed this list to determine the relevance and feasibility of each outcome, and identified potential data sources. This feedback was reviewed by the National Faculty for the Guideline, and a National Advisory Group that included the creators of the COG, resulting in the final list of 5 priority outcomes. Results Five outcomes were judged clinically important and feasible to measure: 1) Effects of opioids for CNCP on quality of life, 2) Assessment of patient’s risk of addiction before starting opioid therapy, 3) Monitoring patients on opioid therapy for aberrant drug-related behaviour, 4) Mortality rates associated with prescription opioid overdose and 5) Use of treatment agreements with patients before initiating opioid therapy for CNCP. Data sources for these outcomes included patient’s medical charts, e-Opioid Manager, prescription monitoring programs and administrative databases. Conclusion Measuring the impact of best practice guidelines is infrequently done. Future research should consider capturing the five outcomes identified in this study to evaluate the impact of the COG in promoting evidence-based use of opioids for CNCP.


  • Allen, Michael
  • Sproule, Beth
  • MacDougall, Peter
  • Furlan, Andrea
  • Murphy, Laura
  • Borg Debono, Victoria
  • Buckley, Norman

publication date

  • December 2020