Faculty of Pain Medicine, ANZCA

Do not continue opioid prescription for chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) without ongoing demonstration of functional benefit, periodic attempts at dose reduction and screening for long-term harms.

Comprehensive assessment of patients with CNCP is essential before prescribing an opioid. An opioid ‘contract’ should describe the purpose of the prescription and would include agreed criteria for functional improvement, risks and side-effects of opioid analgesics, and ground rules regarding their use and cessation. There should be a single prescriber (and a deputy) to take responsibility for opioid prescription, in accordance with the regulatory requirements of the relevant jurisdiction.

Supporting evidence
  • Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Prescription opioid policy: improving management of chronic non-malignant pain and prevention of problems associated with prescription opioid use. Sydney, Australia: The Royal Australasian College of Physicians 2009.
  • Dowell D, Haegerich T, Chou R. CDC Guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain – United States, 2016. JAMA 2016; 315(15):1624-45.
  • Chou R, Fanciullo GJ, Fine PG, et al. Clinical Guidelines for the use of chronic opioid therapy in chronic noncancer pain. The Journal of Pain 2009; 10(2):113-30.
  • Busse J, Craigie S, Juurlink DN, et al. Guideline for opioid therapy and chronic noncancer pain. CMAJ 2017; 189(18):E659-66.
  • Manchikanti L, Abdi S, Atluri S, et al. American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) Guidelines for responsible opioid prescribing in chronic non-cancer pain: Part 2 – Guidance. Pain Physician 2012; 15:S67-116.
How this list was made How this list was made

The Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM), ANZCA established a working group to develop a preliminary list of pain medicine related practices that were identified, using current clinical evidence, as having possible limited benefit, no benefit or which may potentially cause harm to patients. An online survey tool was used to survey all FPM fellows and trainees inviting them to rank these recommendations and to provide any comment related to them. This engagement facilitated consensus and informed the Fellows and trainees about FPM’s involvement with the Choosing Wisely campaign.

FPM's final list of 5 Choosing Wisely recommendations reflects those that were the most broadly supported by the clinicians and which were considered to be the most relevant to community practice.