POINT II – Pain and Opioids IN Treatment

February 2016


Professor Louisa Degenhardt, Professor Michael Farrell, Professor Richard Mattick, Dr Marian Shanahan, Dr Briony Larance, Dr Suzanne Nielsen, Dr Gabrielle Campbell, Bianca Hoban, Teleri Moore, Courtney O’Donnell

Other Collaborators: 

Project Collaborators

  • A/Prof Fiona Byth (Sydney University)
  • Professor Wayne Hall (University of Queensland)
  • A/Prof. Milton Cohen (St. Vincent’s Hospital, Pain Clinic)
  • A/Prof. Nick Lintzeris (University of Sydney/SESIAHS)
  • Dr Raimondo Bruno (University of Tasmania)


  • Ms Lesley Brydon (Pain Australia Limited)
  • Ms Elizabeth Carrigan (Australian Pain Management Association Inc.)
  • Dr Malcolm Dobbin (Senior Medical Advisor (Alcohol and Drugs), Department of Health, Victoria)
  • Professor Julia Fleming (Director, The Professor Tess Cramond Multidisciplinary Pain Centre)
  • Professor Roger Goucke (Clinical and Adjunct Staff (Medicine and Pharmacology, SCGH) The University of Western Australia)
  • Dr Simon Holliday (Albert St Medical Centre)
  • Mr Denis Leahy (Pharmacy Guild of Australia, NSW Branch)
  • A/Prof. Andrea Mant (University of New South Wales)
  • Professor Jake Najman (Director, Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre, University of Queensland)
  • Dr Milana Votrubec (Avenue Road Medical Practice)
  • Professor Jason White (Division of Health Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia)
Project description: 

There has been a recent increase in the prescribing of pharmaceutical opioids to Chronic Non-Cancer Pain (CNCP) patients in Australia which has led to increasing professional and public concern about the use and harms that may be related to such use. Despite this, there is very little known about the magnitude of risk for adverse events. Previous Australian research has had limited duration (~ 12 weeks) and/or have not examined aberrant drug use behaviours. 

The Pain and Opioids IN Treatment (POINT) study, conducted from 2012 to 2015, was the first Australian study to examine the patterns of prescribing for individual patients, and the outcomes for these patients in the longer term. 

Funding for POINT II was received from the NHMRC in December 2015, allowing another three years of follow up interviews to track the POINT cohort. 

Through another three years of follow up interviews, POINT II will further be able to shed light on the extent to which patients experience problematic opioid use, some of the precursors and protective factors to problematic use, and the consequences of problematic opioid use resulting from chronic opioid therapy. It will lead to improved knowledge of dose escalation and the positive and negative outcomes for those who undergo rapid dose escalation and ultimately end up using high doses of opioid analgesics. 

POINT II also aims to establish a long term trajectory of potential impacts on health care use and costs. It will investigate patient preferences for interventions that improve pain and functioning, providing insight into why some ineffective but expensive treatments are used and why long term opioid use persists even in light of little clinical benefit. 

Finally, the project will achieve the establishment of a cohort of Australians with chronic health problems. The project will provide the groundwork for further follow-up of the sample to determine the longer-term outcomes for chronic pain patients.