Patient and provider characteristics associated with communication about opioids: An observational study

Cleveland G. Shields, Lindsay N. Fuzzell, Sharon L. Christ, Marianne S. Matthias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Our objective is to examine the relationship of patient and provider characteristics and communication with chronic non-cancer pain and opioid management in primary care. Method: We conducted an observational study using audio-recorded primary care appointments (up to 3/patient)and self-reported assessments of primary care providers (PCPs)and patients. We coded visit transcripts for 1)opioid and pain management talk and 2)mental health and opioid safety talk. Results: Eight PCPs and 30 patients had complete data for 78 clinic visits. PCPs and patients engaged in more opioid and pain management talk when patients reported greater pain catastrophizing and PCPs reported higher psychosocial orientation. PCPs and patients engaged in talk about mental health and opioid safety when patients reported greater anxiety, higher working alliance with their PCP, and when PCPs reported higher burnout. PCPs’ negative attitudes about opioids were associated with fewer discussions about mental health and opioid safety. Conclusions: Our results should facilitate design of interventions that improve communication and, ultimately, pain outcomes for patients. Practice Implications: Clinicians can use our results to increase patient engagement in discussions about opioid use and pain management or mental health and safety discussions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)888-894
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Communication
  • Opioids
  • Pain
  • Provider-patient relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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