A Review of Opioid Prescribing Practices and Associations with Repeat Opioid Prescriptions in a Contemporary Outpatient HIV Clinic

Nur F. Önen, Ernie Paul Barrette, Enbal Shacham, Toshibumi Taniguchi, Michael Donovan, Edgar T. Overton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objectives: Among persons in current HIV outpatient care, data on opioid prescribing are lacking. This study aims to evaluate predictors of repeat opioid prescribing and to characterize outpatient opioid prescribing practices. Methods: Retrospective cross-sectional study of persons ≥18years in HIV outpatient care who completed an annual behavioral assessment between June 2008 and June 2009. Persons were grouped by ≤1 and ≥2 opioid prescriptions (no-repeat-opioid and repeat-opioids, respectively). Independent predictors for repeat-opioids were evaluated. Opioid prescribing practices were characterized in a sub-study of persons prescribed any opioid. Results: Overall, 659 persons were included, median age 43years, 70% men, and 68% African American. Independent predictors of repeat-opioids (88 [13%] persons) included opportunistic illnesses (both current and previous), depression, peripheral neuropathy, and hepatitis C coinfection (P<0.05). In the subgroup, 140 persons received any opioid prescription (96% short-acting, 33% tramadol). Indications for opioid prescribing were obtained in 101 (72%) persons, with 97% for noncancer-related pain symptoms. Therapeutic response was documented on follow-up in 67 (48%) persons, with no subjective relief of symptoms in 63%. Urine drug screens were requested in 6 (4%) persons, and all performed were positive for illicit drugs. Conclusions: Advanced HIV disease and greater medical and neuropsychiatric comorbidity predict repeat opioid prescribing, and these findings reflect the underlying complexities in managing pain symptoms in this population. We also highlight multiple deficiencies in opioid prescribing practices and nonadherence to guidelines, which are of concern as effective and safe pain management for our HIV-infected population is an optimal goal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-448
Number of pages9
JournalPain Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • HIV
  • Opioid prescribing
  • Outpatient care


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