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Iatrogenic opioid use disorder, chronic pain and psychiatric comorbidity: A systematic review

S M van Rijswijk, M H C T van Beek, G M Schoof, A H Schene, M Steegers, A F Schellekens
General Hospital Psychiatry 2019, 59: 37-50
31141759

OBJECTIVE: A systematic review of the literature on the risks of developing iatrogenic opioid use disorders in chronic pain patients with psychiatric comorbidity.

METHODS: We conducted literature searches on Pubmed with key subjects: "chronic pain", "psychiatry", "opioids" and "opioid use disorder" and for original, English written articles published from 2000 until the first of September 2017. Final selection of the articles for review was made in a consensus between three reviewers.

RESULTS: Longitudinal studies showed a significant association between psychiatric comorbidity, especially depression and anxiety disorders and the development of problematic opioid use, more severe opioid craving and poor opioid treatment outcome (analgesia and side effects) in chronic pain patients. Cross-sectional studies showed a similar association between psychiatric disorders and problematic opioid use, where studies in specialized pain settings showed a higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders, compared to non-specialized settings.

CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review showed a significant association between psychiatric comorbidity, especially depression and anxiety disorders and the development of problematic opioid use in chronic pain patients. We therefore recommend psychiatric screening in chronic pain management. Chronic pain patients with comorbid psychiatric disorders need a multidisciplinary approach and monitoring opioid use is warranted in these patients.

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