Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Melanie D. Otis


National rates of chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) are rising alongside increasing reports of prescription opioid abuse and mortality. Associations between the rise in CNCP and in opioid abuse seem logical, yet research on CNCP among individuals with opioid dependence is currently limited due to the complicated nature of comorbid conditions in research and treatment. This study aims to expand the CNCP knowledge base by responding to the question: Do individuals with CNCP participating in an opiate treatment program have better or worse treatment outcomes than individuals without CNCP?

This study used a secondary dataset including 483 adults from Kentucky’s Opiate Recovery Treatment Outcome Study. Individuals in the sample met DSM-IV-TR criteria for opioid dependence and were in treatment at a licensed opiate treatment program (OTP). Analysis compared cases with and without CNCP on national treatment outcome measures including substance use, recovery support, education, employment, mental health symptoms, and criminal justice system involvement.

Results indicated no differences at follow-up between the CNCP (n=163) and non-CNCP (n=320) individuals on substance abstinence, recovery supports, education level, or criminal justice system involvement. At baseline and follow-up there were more unemployed individuals and individuals receiving disability benefits in the CNCP group than the non-CNCP group. Reported anxiety and depression symptoms increased at follow-up, while use of prescription medicine for mental health symptoms declined for both groups (non-significant differences). The only predictors for CNCP cases in this sample were tobacco use and presence of a chronic medical condition.

Recommendations include expansion of smoking cessation programs in substance abuse treatment settings. Future research might examine integrated treatment and medical home health models to better address biopsychosocial components of clients with comorbid conditions like opioid dependence and CNCP.

Included in

Social Work Commons