Routine Opioid Outcome Monitoring in Community Pharmacy

December 2017

Dr Suzanne Nielsen
Dr Raimondo Bruno
Professor Alison Ritter

Other Collaborators: 

Ms Chris Keyes, Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Networks
A/Professor Apo Demirkol, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Ms Pene Wood, Latrobe University

Project description: 

This project aims to embed screening for key pain-related outcomes and emerging problems with pharmaceutical opioids into community pharmacy practice. This will assist pharmacists to identify where poor outcomes or problems are emerging, and support patient education and prescriber review.

Using an implementation science framework, the aim of this study is to test whether embedding a electronic (tablet completed) screening tool into routine pharmacy practice can facilitate:

  1. The identification of opioid-related problems
  2. Effective referral to the patients’ opioid prescriber
  3. Provision of patient education

The earlier identification of patients with opioid-related risk including unmanaged pain has the potential to reduce opioid-related harm and improve outcomes with chronic pain.


Dramatic increases in opioid use have been observed in Australia, and many parts of the North America and Europe. This increase has been associated with growing evidence of harms including mortality and dependence. Much work has focus on the role of GPs. Community pharmacists represent an understudied and highly skilled group of health professionals that have an important role to play in addressing pharmaceutical opioid related problems.

Effective treatments are available for pharmaceutical opioid dependence, though the people that need them are rarely identified to receive them. Mortality from pharmaceutical opioids exceeds that from heroin by two-fold. Those with chronic pain are prevalent in mortality data, yet little focus has been placed on changing policy and practice to respond to their treatment needs. This project aims to address this gap.

For full details please visit the NDARC website.