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Evidence-Based Resource Summary

Strength of Evidence: 
4 out of 4
4 out of 4
Year Published: 

Adverse Events Associated with Medium- and Long-Term Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: An Overview of Cochrane Reviews

Description of Resource: 
This overview of Cochrane Reviews aimed to assess the occurrence and nature of adverse events associated with any opioid agent (any dose, frequency, or route of administration) used on a medium- or long-term basis for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) in adults. It found 16 Cochrane Reviews of 14 different opioid medications, including codeine, morphine, and oxycodone. These papers included 61 studies with more than 18,000 participants. This overview found that people who take opioids have a significantly higher risk of experiencing any adverse event and of experiencing a serious adverse event. It found an increased risk of some specific adverse events, such as fatigue, nausea, and constipation. However, it did not find any information about many known and serious side effects of opioids, such as addiction, depression, and sleep problems. This review recommends more rigorous identification and reporting of all adverse events in randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews on opioid therapy.

Evidence-Based Resource Details

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Developed By: 
Cochrane Review
Developer Type: 
Non-Federal Government
Healthy People 2020 Topic Area(s): 
Medical Product Safety
Healthy People 2020 Objectives: 
Resource Type: 
Systematic Review
Els C, Jackson TD, Kunyk D, Lappi VG, Sonnenberg B, Hagtvedt R, et al. Adverse events associated with medium- and long-term use of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2018 Feb 28];(10). Art. No.: CD012509. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012509.pub2. Available from: