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05.12.2018 | Original Paper

HIV Physicians and Chronic Opioid Therapy: It’s Time to Raise the Bar

AIDS and Behavior
Jennifer J. Carroll, Jonathan Colasanti, Marlene C. Lira, Carlos del Rio, Jeffrey H. Samet
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Clinical practice that utilizes chronic opioid therapy has been recognized as one major cause of the opioid crisis. Among patients living with HIV, the risks associated with chronic opioid therapy may be complicated by factors such as co-occurring mental health diagnoses, substance use, and economic marginalization. Improving opioid prescribing practices in HIV clinics requires attention to these and other characteristics common to HIV care. In the context of a randomized controlled trial testing an intervention to improve opioid prescribing practices in HIV outpatient clinics, we interviewed physicians about their perspectives on chronic opioid therapy. Overwhelmingly, physicians voiced ambivalence about their own knowledge and comfort with prescription opioids. They raised concerns about the impact of opioid prescribing on patient-provider relationships and the increasing workload associated with prescribing and monitoring patients. In this report, we explore these concerns and propose several strategies for improving clinical care in which chronic opioid therapy is addressed.

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