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Penn Nursing Expert: Workable Alternatives to Opioid Treatment Needed

In a recent letter to the editor of JAMA Oncology, Dr. Salimah H. Meghani addresses the need for health insurance-covered treatments other than opioids for cancer survivors with chronic pain.

Improving the way opioids are prescribed can ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment while reducing the number of people who misuse, abuse or overdose on these drugs. This includes cancer survivors who experience chronic pain and for whom the current clinical paradigm relies heavily on the use of opioids.

In its Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have published 12 key clinical practice guidelines for prescribing opioids and increasing the use of other effective treatments including non-opioid medications and non-pharmacologic therapy. In a just published JAMA Oncology letter to the editor, “Intended Target of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Opioid Guidelines,” Salimah H. Meghani, PhD, MBE, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) addresses the need for effective, health insurance-covered treatments other than opioids for cancer survivors with chronic pain.     

“This is a challenging time for cancer survivors who continue to experience moderate to severe pain beyond active cancer treatment. The chronic pain management paradigm is shifting more expeditiously than the available evidence for access to workable alternatives,” Meghani wrote.

Meghani’s main research interest involves palliative care, specifically understanding and addressing sources of disparities in symptom management and outcomes among vulnerable populations. She is a core member of the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at Penn Nursing; a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania; a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing; and served on the Institute of Medicine Committee, contributing to the report, “Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.”