How to Use the Resource

A clinical decision to prescribe opioids for pain should be informed by:

  • A diagnosis and formulation of the pain problem
  • Knowledge of the effectiveness of opioids for the pain
  • Likely benefits and harms of treatment for the individual patient
  • An understanding of how medication contributes to the wider pain management plan
  • An ability to predict when problems might occur
  • Recognition and management of problems when they arise

The information in the resource is not sufficient to make an individual clinical decision. Prescribers have responsibilities to maintain their skills and competencies in accordance with national recommendations. In particular prescribers must be confident in patient assessment including mental and physical health co-morbidities, and must recognise the importance of the individual circumstances of the patient. Prescribers need to be aware of potential interactions with prescribed and non-prescribed drugs that the patient is taking and must make appropriate arrangements for continuing care when a prescription is issued. This resource contains specific information relating to the clinical use of opioids for pain that aims to support prescribers and patients in making a fully informed decision to use, or to not use opioids.