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Opioid addiction prevention has become an urgent public health priority, with several countries declaring a state of emergency due to rising death tolls from opioid abuse. Reducing the risk of developing addiction among opioid-naïve patients exposed to prescribed opioids during the process of medical care may be an important primary prevention strategy. Our objective is to synthesize the available evidence about factors associated with the development of addiction among patients first exposed to prescribed opioids, with a focus on opioid-naïve patients.
We will perform a systematic search of MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and other databases in collaboration with a health information specialist using a comprehensive search strategy. We will also supplement our search with a scan of the grey literature to identify relevant ongoing and unpublished studies. We will include studies reporting on risk factors for opioid addiction in patients prescribed opioid analgesic therapy through a prescription from a licensed medical professional, with a focus on opioid-naïve patients. We will exclude studies focusing on patients who are first exposed to illicit opioids, those who use prescription opioids for cancer pain, and/or who are palliative. Two reviewers will independently review titles, abstracts, and full texts for inclusion and exclusion criteria. They will then extract data from included full texts using standardized piloted data extraction forms and assess study quality through risk of bias assessment. We will synthesize the effect sizes of risk factors derived from clinically homogenous studies with similar designs and the remaining ones qualitatively.
Understanding risk factors for opioid addiction among patients who require analgesia has the potential to inform clinical care and opioid prescribing guidelines aiming to reduce opioid addiction. We will also use this information as a starting point for developing interventions for primary prevention.