Department of Health and Human Services agency seeks info on opioids and seniors

Department of Health and Human Services agency seeks info on opioids and seniors

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a department of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is looking for information on approaches to addressing opioid management in older adults.

Virginia Mackay-Smith, associate director with the AHRQ, issued a Request For Information (RFI) last week, asking for health care providers from primary care offices to ambulatory care clinics to send in their strategies and approaches to senior patients and opioid prescriptions.

Opioid prescription management in older adults is challenging for several reasons, including the tendency of older patients to have chronic pain, to have co-occurring medical disorders that can mimic the effects of opioid use, and the risk of attributing opioid use disorder symptoms (personality changes, falls/balance problems, sleeping problems, and heart problems) to the effects of age.

“Clinicians may not associate drug misuse or addiction with older adults, or they may be inadequately trained in identification and treatment of opioid misuse and OUD among older adults, and hence may not monitor for the signs of opioid use disorder in this population,” the agency said in its RFI. “Successfully optimizing the prescribing and use of opioids in older adults will require addressing the issue at many points along the care continuum where older adults may need additional attention or a different approach. AHRQ wants to identify specific tools, strategies and approaches to opioid management in older adults throughout the breadth of the care delivery continuum, from avoiding opioid initiation to screening for opioid misuse and opioid use disorder, as well as approaches to opioid tapering in older adults.”

The information must be received by April 25, 2020, and can be submitted by email to