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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 40

of 'Cancer pain management: General principles and risk management for patients receiving opioids'

Do Palliative Care Clinics Screen for Substance Abuse and Diversion? Results of a National Survey.
Tan PD, Barclay JS, Blackhall LJ
J Palliat Med. 2015;18(9):752.
BACKGROUND: Opioids are the mainstay of treatment of cancer pain. With increased use there have been concerns about rising rates of prescription drug abuse and diversion. Although there has been an increase in research and practice guidelines about the scope of the problem for chronic, nonmalignant pain, less information is available about both the frequency of the problem and current practices regarding screening for substance abuse and diversion in patients and family members seen in palliative care clinics.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the degree to which palliative programs felt that substance abuse and diversion was an issue, and to identify practices regarding care of patients with potential substance misuse issues.
METHODS: We sent a survey regarding substance abuse perception, policies, training, and screening to 94 accredited palliative medicine fellowship program directors as obtained by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) directory.
RESULTS: We received usable responses from 38 (40.4%) programs. Policies for screening patients (40.5%) or family members (16.2%), dealing with diversion (27%), and use of a screening tool (32.4%) were reported infrequently. Despite this, one-half of respondents indicated that substance abuse and diversion was an issue for their clinics, with only 25% indicating substance abuse was not an issue. Additionally, the majority of fellows (83%) and about half (47%) of staff received mandatory training for dealing with substance misuse. All programs provided some screening of patients, with 48.7% screening all patients for abuse. Screening of family members was relatively rare, as was routine use of the urine drug screen (UDS).
CONCLUSION: Despite increased concerns about substance abuse, the majority of programs did not have substance abuse and diversion policies or report screening all patients, with screening of caregivers rarely reported. Consensus guidelines addressing substance abuse and diversion for palliative patients are needed to address this growing problem.
1 Department of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care, University of Virginia , Charlottesville, Virginia.