The VA Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) expanded nationally in FY 2013. The OSI aims to reduce over-reliance on opioid analgesics for pain management and to promote safe and effective use of opioid therapy when clinically indicated. The comprehensive OSI strategy includes education of providers and expanded access to non-pharmacological treatment options, in particular behavioral and complementary integrative health modalities. Integrated care requires the systematic coordination of medical, psychological and social aspects of health care is required for high quality pain care.
Pain, medical and/or mental comorbidities are often related to military service and/or require Veteran-specific expertise. Chronic pain is more common in Veterans than in the non-veteran U.S. population, more often severe and in the context of comorbidities. Pain severity and co-concurrence with mental health comorbidities result in high impact pain (i.e. associated with substantial restriction of participation in work, social, and self-care activities). According to the Behavioral Health Autopsy report (2015) “The most frequently identified risk factor among Veterans who died by suicide was pain”.
Veterans are at high risk for harms from opioid medication. The OSI Dashboard makes the totality of opioid use visible within VA and provides feedback to stakeholders at VA facilities regarding key parameters of opioid prescribing.