Inadequate pain assessment is a barrier to appropriate pain management, but single-item “pain screening” provides limited information about chronic pain. Multidimensional pain measures such as the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) are widely used in pain specialty and research settings, but are impractical for primary care. A brief and straightforward multidimensional pain measure could potentially improve initial assessment and follow-up of chronic pain in primary care.
The Opioid Risk Tool (ORT) is a brief, self-report screening tool designed for use with adult patients in primary care settings to assess risk for opioid abuse among individuals prescribed opioids for treatment of chronic pain. Patients categorized as high-risk are at increased likelihood of future abusive drug-related behavior. The ORT can be administered and scored in less than 1 minute and has been validated in both male and female patients, but not in non-pain populations.
The Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) is an 11-item scale designed to be administered by a clinician. This tool can be used in both inpatient and outpatient settings to reproducibly rate common signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal and monitor these symptoms over time. The summed score for the complete scale can be used to help clinicians determine the stage or severity of opiate withdrawal and assess the level of physical dependence on opioids. Practitioners sometimes express concern about the objectivity of the items in the COWS; however, the symptoms of opioid withdrawal have been likened to a severe influenza infection (e.g., nausea, vomiting, sweating, joint aches, agitation, tremor), and patients should not exceed the lowest score in most categories without exhibiting some observable sign or symptom of withdrawal.
Use this tool to determine if a client is a suitable candidate for long-term opioid analgesia.