Background: Outpatients with cancer commonly have nonmedical opioid use (NMOU) behaviors and use opioids to dull emotional and existential suffering. Buprenorphine is often used for cancer pain due to less reported euphoria when compared to other opioids.
Methods: A retrospective review was done in patients who were prescribed buprenorphine for cancer pain. Pain scores were reported on a Likert pain scale of 1 to 10. Nonmedical opioid use was defined as patients taking opioids for emotional pain at or above the maximum prescribed amount.
Results: For 16 patients, the mean pain score prior to buprenorphine (pain pre) was 8.3 (Standard deviation (Std) 1.6), and the mean pain score on follow-up post-buprenorphine (pain post) was 6.1 (Std 2.3) with a reduction in mean pain score (pain change) of -2.0 (Std 2.9, P = .059). Those patients without NMOU had a pain prescore of 9.5 (Std 1.0) and pain post of 4.3 (Std 2.5) with a mean pain change of -5.0 (Std 1.7, P = .20). The mean pain change in those with chemical coping (-1.3/Std 2.7), illicit drug use (-2.8/Std 1.0), or psychiatric comorbidity (-2.4/Std 2.7) were reduced after buprenorphine, however, not statistically significant. Outpatient rotation to buprenorphine was well tolerated.
Conclusions: The pain score in those patients without NMOU was significantly lower after rotation to buprenorphine than those with NMOU. We deduce that in those with NMOU, it is more challenging to achieve pain relief with buprenorphine. Overall, for all patients, rotation to buprenorphine resulted in a marginally significantly reduced pain score.
Background: Palliative care (PC) teams increasingly care for patients with cancer into survivorship. Cancer survivorship transcends distinctions between acute, chronic, malignant, and nonmalignant pain. Partnering with oncologists, PC teams manage pain that persists after disease-directed treatment, evaluate changing symptoms as possible signs of cancer recurrence, taper opioids and mitigate risk of opioid misuse, and manage comorbid opioid use disorder (OUD). While interdisciplinary guidelines exist for pain management in survivorship, there is a need to develop a conceptual model that fully translates the biopsychosocial framework of PC into survivorship pain management.
Objective: This review frames a model for pain management in cancer survivorship that balances analgesia with the imperative to minimize risk of OUD, recognizes signs of disease recurrence, and provides whole-person care.
Methods: Comprehensive narrative review of the literature.
Results: Little guidance exists for co-management of pain, psychological distress, and opioid misuse in survivorship. We identified themes for whole-person pain management in survivorship: use of opioids and co-analgesic medications to prevent recurrent pain from residual tissue damage following cancer treatment, opioid tapering to the lowest effective dose, utilization of nonpharmacologic psychological interventions shown to reduce pain, screening for and management of OUD in partnership with addiction medicine specialists, maintaining vigilance for disease recurrence, and engaging in shared medical decision making.
Conclusions: The management of pain in cancer survivorship is complex and requires interdisciplinary care that balances analgesia with the imperative to reduce long-term inappropriate opioid use and manage OUD, while maintaining therapeutic presence with patients in the spirit of PC.
Sous forme d’un journal allant de 2005 à 2019, l’auteur retrace son histoire d’amour avec Christophe, son époux mort à la suite d’une prise mortelle de drogues de synthèse. Il raconte leur rencontre, leurs combats communs, les circonstances de sa disparition et son propre deuil, de même qu’il alerte les pouvoirs publics sur la circulation de ces substances.
PURPOSE: Little information exists on factors that predict opioid misuse in oncology. We adopted the Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients With Pain-Short Form (SOAPP-SF) and toxicology testing to assess for opioid misuse risk. The primary objective was to (1) identify characteristics associated with a high-risk SOAPP-SF score and noncompliant toxicology test, and (2) determine SOAPP-SF utility to predict noncompliant toxicology tests.
METHODS: From July 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017, new patients completed the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), SOAPP-SF, and narcotic use agreement. Toxicology test results were collected at subsequent visits.
RESULTS: Of 223 distinct patients, 96% completed SOAPP-SF. Mean age was 61 ± 12.7 years, 58% were female, 68% were White, and 28% were Black. Eighty-three eligible patients (38%) completed toxicology testing. Younger age, male sex, and increased ESAS depression scores were associated with high-risk SOAPP-SF scores. Smoking habit was associated with an aberrant test. An SOAPP-SF score >= 3 predicted a noncompliant toxicology test.
CONCLUSION: Male sex, young age, and higher ESAS depression score were associated with a high SOAPP-SF score. Smoking habit was associated with an aberrant test. An SOAPP-SF of >= 3 (sensitivity, 0.74; specificity, 0.64), not >= 4, was predictive of an aberrant test; however, performance characteristics were decreased from those published by Inflexxion, for >= 4 (sensitivity, 0.86; specificity, 0.67). The specificity warrants caution in falsely labeling patients. The SOAPP-SF may aid in meeting National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommendations to screen oncology patients for opioid misuse.
Opioid addiction, if not well diagnosed and treated, can be a significant challenge for optimal pain management even in cancer patients. To date there is no definitive pharmacological standard of care for treating addiction, especially in this setting of patients. We present a clinical case series of three opioid-addicted advanced cancer patients, effectively treated with haloperidol, a well-known first-generation typical antipsychotic.
BACKGROUND: Opioid overdoses have reached epidemic levels in the United States and have clustered in Northeastern and "Rust Belt" states. Five Factor Model (FFM) personality traits also vary at the state level, with anger-prone traits clustered in the Northeast region. This study tested the hypothesis that state-level anger proneness would be associated with a greater increase in rates of opioid overdose death.
METHODS: This was a secondary analysis of state-level data on FFM traits, opioid overdose deaths, and other classes of preventable death. Robust mixed models tested whether change in rates of opioid overdose death from 2008 to 2016 was moderated by state-level anger proneness.
RESULTS: State-level anger proneness was significantly associated with greater increases in rates of opioid overdose deaths (B = 1.01, standard error = 0.19, P < .001, 95% confidence interval: 0.63-1.39). The slope of increase in opioid overdose death rates was 380% greater in anger-prone states and held after adjustment for potential confounders such as state-level prevalence of major depressive disorder, number of mental health facilities, and historical patterns of manufacturing decline. A similar pattern was observed between state-level anger proneness and benzodiazepine overdose deaths but was not significant for the latter after adjustment for potential confounders.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that states characterized as more anger prone have experienced greater increases in opioid overdose deaths.
BACKGROUND: There is little information about how healthcare professionals feel about providing palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder (SUD). Therefore, this study aims to explore: 1) the problems and needs experienced by healthcare professionals, volunteers and experts-by-experience (HCP/VE) during their work with patients with SUD in a palliative care trajectory and; 2) to make suggestions for improvements using the quality of care model by Donabedian (Structure, Process, Outcome).
METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted, consisting of six focus group interviews which consisted of HCP/VE working with patients with SUD in a palliative care phase. At the end of the focus group interviews, participants structured and summarized their experiences within a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) framework. Interview transcripts (other than the SWOT) were analysed by the researchers following procedures from the Grounded Theory Approach ('Grounded Theory Lite'). SWOT-findings were not subjected to in-depth analysis.
RESULTS: HCP/VE stated that within the Structure of care, care networks are fragmented and HCP/VE often lack knowledge about patients' multiplicity of problems and the time to unravel these. Communication with this patient group appears limited. The actual care-giving Process requires HCP/VE a lot of creativity and time spent seeking for cooperation with other caregivers and appropriate care settings. The latter is often hindered by stigma. Since no formalized knowledge is available, care-delivery is often exclusively experience-based. Pain-medication is often ineffective due to active substance use. Finally, several Outcomes were brought forward: Firstly, a palliative care phase is often identified only at a late stage. Secondly, education and a (mobile) team of expertise are desired. Thirdly, care for the caregivers themselves is often de-prioritized.
CONCLUSIONS: Better integration and collaboration between the different professionals with extensive experience in addiction, palliative and general curative care is imperative to assure good palliative care for patients with SUD. Currently, the resources for this care appear to be insufficient. Development of an educational program and social mapping may be the first steps in improving palliative care for patients with severe SUD.
BACKGROUND: Pain and opioid management are core ambulatory palliative care skills. Existing literature on how to manage opioid misuse/use disorder excludes patients found in palliative care settings, such as individuals with serious illness or those at the end of life.
OBJECTIVES: We conducted an exploratory study to: (1) Identify the challenges palliative care clinicians face when prescribing opioids in ambulatory settings and (2) explore factors that affect opioid decision-making.
METHODS: We recruited palliative care clinicians who prescribe opioids in ambulatory settings, which included open-ended questions and was conducted online. Results were analyzed qualitatively using a content analysis-based approach.
RESULTS: Eighty-three palliative care clinicians (mostly MDs/DOs) participated. Challenges faced when prescribing opioids included clinician differences in approach to care (eg, transitioning from another clinician with more permissive opioid prescribing), medication access (eg, inadequate pharmacy supply), resource constraints (eg, access to mental health and addiction expertise), managing problems outside the typical palliative care scope (eg addiction). Participants also discussed factors that influenced their opioid prescribing decisions, such as opioid-related harms and risks that they need to weigh; they also spoke about the necessity of considering other factors like the patient's environment, disease, treatment, and prognosis.
CONCLUSION: This study highlights the challenge of opioid management in patients with serious illness, particularly when misuse or substance use disorder is present, and suggests areas for future research focus. Our next step will be to establish consensus on approaches to opioid prescribing decision-making and policy in seriously ill patients presenting to ambulatory palliative care.
Primary care physicians are increasingly incorporating screening tools for substance use disorders (SUDs) and referral to treatment into their practice. Despite efforts to provide access to treatment, patients with SUDs remain at an increased risk of mortality, both from overdose and from general medical conditions. Advance care planning (ACP) is recommended for patients with chronic, progressive medical conditions such as malignancies or heart failure. Though SUDs are widely acknowledged to be chronic diseases associated with an increased risk of mortality, there has been little discussion on ACP in this population. ACP is a discussion regarding future care, often including selection of a surrogate decision-maker and completion of an advanced directive. ACP has been associated with better quality of end-of-life and care more consistent with patient preferences. Studies in other vulnerable populations have shown that marginalized and high-risk individuals may be less likely to receive ACP. Similarly, patients with SUDs may employ different decision-makers than that defined by law (i.e., friend vs. family member), increasing the importance of discussing patient values and social structure. Physicians should routinely conduct ACP conversations with patients with SUDs, especially those with chronic, progressive medical conditions and/or severe, uncontrolled substance use disorders.
BACKGROUND: Systematic research into palliative care (PC) for people with substance use disorder (SUD) and multiple problems is scarce. The existing literature shows problems in the organizational structure of this care, e.g., lack of clear care pathways. Furthermore, negative attitudes of healthcare professionals (HCPs) and stigmatization surrounding SUD, and patients' care-avoidance and non-disclosure of substance use are hindering factors in providing timely and person-centered PC. Furthermore, the experiences and needs of patients and proxies themselves are unknown. Therefore, this study aims to explore which problems and needs patients with SUD and multiple problems, and their proxies, experience in a PC phase.
METHODS: Data-collection of this qualitative study consisted of semi-structured interviews with patients with SUD and multiple problems in a PC phase, and their proxies, about their experiences in PC and their well-being. Interviews were inductively analyzed.
RESULTS: Nine patients and three proxies were included. Six patients suffered from COPD, one patient from cirrhosis of the liver and two patients from both. Seven patients stayed in a nursing home and two had a room in either a social care service (hostel) or an assisted living home where medical care was provided. Five themes were identified: 1) healthcare delivery (including HCPs behaviour and values); 2) end-of-life (EOL) preferences (mostly concerning only the individual patient and the 'here-and-the-now'); 3) multidimensional problems; 4) coping (active and passive) and; 5) closed communication. Proxies' experiences with healthcare differed. Emotionally, they were all burdened by their histories with the patients.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that talking about and anticipating on PC with this patient-group appears hard due to patients' closed and avoiding communication. Furthermore, some of patients' EOL-preferences and needs, and coping-strategies, seem to differ from the more generally-accepted ideas and practices. Therefore, educating HCPs in communicating with this patient-group, is needed.
Complicated grief is a prolonged, bereavement-specific disorder with significant psychological and physical consequences. Although complicated grief represents a risk to individuals with substance misuse, this relationship is poorly understood. Consequently, this systematic literature review examined empirical findings regarding the relationship between substance misuse and complicated grief. We searched 11 databases to identify pertinent quantitative studies published in English. Our search yielded 12 peer-reviewed journal articles (N = 1749) published between 1997 and 2017. Included studies evaluated the prevalence, assessment, etiology, correlates, risk factors, and treatment of complicated grief and substance misuse among individuals with one or both conditions. Our review found evidence of a positive relationship between complicated grief and substance misuse. Individuals with substance misuse were at increased risk for subsequent development of complicated grief, particularly when increases in substance consumption preceded bereavement. Conversely, complicated grief predicted increases in smoking and alcohol dependence. Multiple risk factors for individuals with complicated grief and substance misuse were identified and discussed. An existing complicated grief assessment performed well among individuals with substance misuse, and grief interventions were effective in reducing symptoms of complicated grief and substance misuse simultaneously. Given the severity of consequences associated with both conditions, more research is needed to understand this relationship, identify effective assessment tools, and evaluate intervention strategies to improve outcomes.
Experts estimate that over 25 million Americans are in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Many will be confronted with a serious progressive illness necessitating palliative care or hospice services. In current literature, substance use disorder has mostly been examined in relation to appropriate symptom assessment and management, opioid risk screening, and controlled substance prescribing practices. However, as hospice and palliative care (HPC) clinicians strive to provide whole person care for the seriously ill, awareness and facilitation of healthy psychosocial-spiritual coping strategies for recovering addicts should enhance such care. One of the more common support mechanisms to support recovery is the 12-step program, based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Twelve-step programs have been shown to provide effective coping strategies, not only to help facilitate ongoing abstinence but also to support other psychosocial-spiritual crises. The HPC providers may help to serve those living with addiction disorders better by assessing not only patient histories of substance use/abuse and other addictive behaviors but by facilitating their ongoing support recovery efforts. Here, we use 2 HPC cases to illustrate the value of 12-step recovery programs in patient support and provide recommendations for enhancing such healthy coping in HPC clinical settings.
The current opioid crisis in the United States is a major problem facing health-care providers, even at the end of life. Opioids continue to be the mainstay treatment for pain at the end of life, with the prevalence of pain reported in up to 80% of patients and tends to increase as one gets closer toward the end of life. In the past year, 20.2 million Americans had a substance use disorder (SUD) and SUDs are disabling disorders that largely go untreated. In addition, the coexistence of both a mental health and SUD is very common with the use of opioids often as a means of chemical coping. Most hospice programs do not have standardized SUD policies/guidelines in place despite the increasing concerns about substance abuse within the United States. The goal of this article is to review the literature on this topic and offer strategies on how to manage pain in patients who have active SUD or who are at risk for developing SUD in those dying on hospice.
OBJECTIVES: This study investigated the use of opioid treatment plans that included the implementation of opioid dependence risk with a validated screening tool and opioid dependence risk tool (UDT) in a noncancer palliative pain clinic.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records for diagnostic information, information on analgesic medications, daily morphine equivalent dose, presence of pain management agreements and opioid dependence risk tools (ORT), and UDT. We recorded hospital days and emergency department visits.
RESULTS: Seventy-four patients were followed for a mean of 15.9 months. Ninety-three percent of patients had pain management agreements and 74% had ORT. The median score was 8: consistent with a high risk. More than half had UDT and 17.6% of patients had unexpected findings. Fifty-nine percent of patients had a psychiatric diagnosis. Hospital days and emergency department visits decreased by more than 30% ( P = .015 and P = .019). Significance of Findings: Both mental health problems and aberrant drug use were common in patients seen in a noncancer palliative care clinic. There were significant reductions in acute care utilization in the 12 months post intake in the clinic.
A patient receiving maintenance treatment with methadone (MTM) was treated with parenteral methadone for intense pain crises in cancer of the tongue with severe mucositis and dysphagia. Authors like Manfredi et al describe good results in the use of methadone as an analgesic in patients with MTM. The difficulties which arise with parenteral use derive from the drug itself and from those to whom the treatment is administered: serious side effects like malignant arrhythmias and respiratory depression and the complex nature of these patients, addicted to opiates with a terminal illness and pain which is difficult to treat. It should be administered by experts in palliative care in a healthcare unit where it can be successfully monitored.
BACKGROUND: The specific palliative care needs and problems of patients with a substance use disorder and multiple problems, and those of their proxies, are under recognized. Besides, the organization of palliative care, including the division of health care professionals' responsibilities, is often unclear. Perspectives of patients and proxies are hardly known. We describe the outline of a study designed to explore how palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder is organized in the Netherlands and to explore problems and needs, as well as possible improvements from the healthcare professionals', patients' and proxies' perspective. The aim of this protocol paper is to provide insights in ways to conduct research with vulnerable research participants and to offer a detailed description of the study design. The broader study aims to gain insight in and formulate recommendations on how to improve palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder.
METHODS: A qualitative study with patients, proxies and healthcare professionals. Semi-structured interviews will be held with 10–15 patients who suffer from a severe substance use disorder. They are in a palliative care trajectory and either diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening disease or, as a result of addictive behavior, a physical deterioration without the prospect of cure. Semi-structured interviews will also be held with 5–10 proxies. Healthcare professionals, volunteers and/or ‘experts-by-experience’ (n = 24–40) will be participating in semi-structured group interviews. All (group) interviews will be thematically analyzed. Additionally, a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis will be applied to the group interview data with the aim to summarize and concretize the findings.
DISCUSSION: Everyone has a right to an optimal end-of-life phase of life and a dignified dying process. This study will provide valuable knowledge about palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder and explicitly bring to light the needs and problems of the patients and their proxies and healthcare professionals in a palliative care phase.
Opioid addiction, although uncommon in cancer patients, can be a significant challenge for optimal pain management in certain patients. We present a case of a 59-year-old man with advanced colon cancer whose compulsive craving for the buccal tablet of fentanyl citrate (BTFC) was improved with the use of olanzapine. He was hospitalized for abdominal pain caused by disease progression. He had visited several times at outpatient follow-up to obtain a prescription for BTFC because he took all medications before the appointed times. After admission, intravenous infusion of oxycodone and opioid rotation were applied to the patient to control his pain. However, he complained that the pain was not relieved at all and persistently asked for only BTFC 7 to 15 times per day. With the diagnosis of opioid addiction, the transdermal buprenorphine patch was applied, but was ineffective for controlling the addictive behaviors. Finally, olanzapine (10 mg/day per os), a dopamine receptor antagonist, was given to control the craving behavior because psychological dependence is mediated by the dopaminergic system. Three days later, opioid craving was reduced from five to one on a 5-point Likert scale. The pain was well controlled to numeric rating scale 1 or 2 without cravings for BTFC. Craving behavior as a result of opioid addiction may be controlled with olanzapine. Further prospective studies on this issue are warranted.
Background: Pain medicine is a developing specialty, aimed at relieving pain and suffering, enhancing function, and improving the quality of life of patients. Pain is often ignored, under-reported and mismanaged by health-care providers. Aspiring pain physicians in India face many challenges and barriers in advancing their specialty.
Objectives: The objective of this study is to determine the challenges in establishing a pain practice in India and to discuss the opportunities and strategies to overcome these barriers.
Subjects and Methods: Face-to-face interactive sessions were held with 60 aspiring pain physicians of India who were chosen as registrants to an International Association for the Study of Pain-Indian Society for Study of Pain multidisciplinary evidence-based pain management program conducted at Delhi and Mumbai. The available opportunities, practical issues and the hurdles in becoming a pain specialist were analyzed and summarized in this commentary.
Results: The major barriers identified were: (1) Inadequate knowledge and absence of structured, educational and training courses, (2) bureaucratic hurdles, and (3) concerns of opioid misuse and addiction. The opportunities for personal growth and that of the specialty that could be utilized include the creation of a pain resource team, increasing community awareness, changing attitudes of other physicians toward pain specialty, and research and evidence building of the effectiveness of pain management strategies.
Conclusion: India needs a structured teaching and training program in the area of pain medicine that is affiliated by the Medical Council of India or other reputed boards of medical education and certification. There is an urgent need to include pain management in the undergraduate and postgraduate medical curriculum. Enhancing community level awareness by public health education campaigns, developing networks of pain physicians, and appropriate marketing of the specialty is needed to make pain medicine recognized and utilized as a valuable specialty.
As the United States experiences an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, and guidelines on safe practices in prescribing opioids in chronic pain have subsequently emerged from professional organizations and governmental agencies, limited guidance exists for prescribers of opioids to treat pain in patients with cancer or terminal illness. Patients with active cancer or terminal illness often have pain and are frequently prescribed opioids and other controlled substances. Current studies suggest that patients with cancer have similar rates of risk for misuse, abuse, and addiction as the general public. Moreover, palliative care and hospice programs appear poorly prepared for assessing or managing patients with aberrant behaviors or evidence of drug abuse. Further research and professional consensus are needed to help address the challenges associated with misuse, abuse, and addiction in patients with cancer and terminal illness.
The recent practice in Belgium and the Netherlands of accepting addiction as a reason for performing euthanasia raises important issues for the field of addiction and the practice of euthanasia. In this paper we outline some of these issues. We also argue that physicians making decisions about whether to accept requests for euthanasia from people with an allegedly untreatable addiction should consider two issues carefully. They should ensure that: (1) the person has the capacity to give free and informed consent to undergo euthanasia; and (2) their request is the outcome of a deliberative process in which all reasonable treatment options and harm reduction measures have been offered to and considered by the person.