Lazaridou A, Paschali M, Edwards RR, et al. Is Buprenorphine Effective for Chronic Pain? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Pain Med. 2020 Apr 24. pii: 5824781. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnaa089. (Systematic review)

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature on the effects of buprenorphine on chronic pain outcomes (i.e., patient-reported pain intensity) in patients with and without opioid use disorder (OUD).

DESIGN: Ovid/Medline, PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were searched for studies that explored the effectiveness (in reducing pain) of buprenorphine treatment for chronic pain patients with and without a history of OUD. Randomized controlled trials and observational studies were included in the review.

METHODS: Two separate searches were conducted to identify buprenorphine trials that included chronic pain patients either with or without OUD. Five studies used validated pain report measures and included a chronic pain population with OUD. Nine studies used validated report measures and included chronic pain patients without OUD. Meta-analysis was performed using the R, version 3.2.2, Metafor package, version 1.9-7.

RESULTS: The meta-analysis revealed that buprenorphine has a beneficial effect on pain intensity overall, with a small mean effect size in patients with comorbid chronic pain and OUD and a moderate- to large-sized effect in chronic pain patients without OUD.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that buprenorphine is modestly beneficial in reducing pain intensity in patients without OUD. Although informative, these findings should be carefully interpreted due to the small amount of data available and the variation in study designs.

Discipline Area Score
Physician 5 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

Physician rater

Concern is raised regarding narcotics for chronic pain. There are much better approaches...

Physician rater

What strikes me about the study is that measured outcome was pain and not function. It seems that function would be a much more valuable outcome. Also the studies were small.

Physician rater

More for pain specialists.
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