Managing cancer pain during the opioid crisis: A multidisciplinary, cross-Canada knowledge dissemination and research planning initiative

Canada’s current opioid crisis, and efforts to curb it, may be contributing to inadequate cancer pain management.
This was the core takeaway of the first step in a ground-breaking national initiative to highlight the impact of the opioid crisis on cancer pain management and develop a research agenda investigating the crisis and ways to optimize pain management across the disease continuum and the lifespan.
Other important topics included the identification of major knowledge gaps, inconsistent reporting of harms, and systems and regulatory impacts which may have significant negative effects on the delivery of good cancer pain management.
These insights are thanks to a CIHR Planning and Dissemination Grant through the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, funding from the Quebec Pain Research Network, the Quebec Network in Palliative and End of Life Care, and the Quebec Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Support Unit, and in-kind support from Pain BC and Solutions for Kids in Pain. The initiative brought together an international, multidisciplinary team of 41 people with lived experience, patient advocates, clinicians, and researchers with expertise in pain, oncology, palliative and supportive care, and addictions at two 2-day meetings in Vancouver and Montreal in September, 2019. Discussions included the clinical realities of managing cancer pain amidst the crisis, patient and caregiver experiences, at-risk populations, genetics, psychological comorbidities, substance use, cognitive impairment, other treatments (e.g. non-pharmacological treatments, cannabinoids), and systems and economic factors.
We identified several critical next steps that will enhance our understanding of the opioid crisis and its impact on people with cancer pain. People interested in joining us are invited to contact Lynn Gauthier ( for more information.