Frequently Asked Questions
What is long-term pain?
Pain is usually considered long-term when it is experienced for a minimum of 3 months Long-term pain caused by a variety of conditions (with the exception of cancer) is also sometimes called chronic pain or persistent pain.
What are opioids?
Researchers at Keele University have created a short animation explaining which medicines that are commonly taken by people with long-lasting pain are opioids and which are not. You can watch the animation below.
Opioids are a group of medicines used for pain that are related to opium, an extract of poppy seeds. Some opioids are naturally occurring, for example morphine and codeine. Other opioids are synthetic, which means they are made in a laboratory but act in the same way as naturally occurring opioids do. There are different strengths of opioids, from weak to strong, although the strength also depends on the amount taken.
Opioids are commonly prescribed to people with long-term pain in the UK. Morphine is the best known opioid and it is a strong opioid; fentanyl and oxycodone are strong opioids too. codeine and dihydrocodeine are weaker opioids. Tramadol and tapentadol are medicines that have a dual action. In part they work like a stronger opioid and in part they work more like an antidepressant. Sometimes opioids are mixed with paracetamol, for example co-codamol, co-dydramol and tramacet.
Opioids taken for long-lasting pain are most commonly dispensed as tablets and capsules, but there are opioid patches containing buprenorphine or fentanyl. Opioids come in other forms too including liquids, injections and lozenges that dissolve in the mouth or under the tongue, but these are not often used for long-lasting pain. The majority of opioids are prescribed by health care professionals. Small doses of weak opioids (such as codeine), combined with paracetamol can be purchased over the counter without a prescription.
Not all medicines used for pain are opioids, for example paracetamol on its own is not an opioid. Aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen and naproxen are taken for pain and belong to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Antidepressant medicines like amitriptyline and duloxetine and anti-epilepsy (anticonvulsant) medicines like gabapentin and pregabalin are sometimes prescribed for long-lasting pain, but none of these are opioids. Diazepam is not an opioid either, it is an anti-anxiety medicine and is sometimes prescribed short-term for painful muscle spasm.
Medicines have one chemical or generic name but may have a number of different brand (trade) names, which can be confusing. The generic names of opioids which are prescribed for long-lasting pain include buprenorphine, co-codamol, codeine, co-dydramol, diamorphine, dihydrocodeine, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, pethidine, tapentadol and tramadol. There are many brand names for these medicines too. Your community pharmacist will be able to tell you whether the medicine you are taking is an opioid.
What is PROMPPT?
PROMPPT is the title of the 5-year research project. PROMPPT stands for: Proactive clinical Review of patients taking Opioid Medicines long-term for persistent Pain led by clinical Pharmacists in primary care Teams
You can watch our video introducing the study here.
What is Q-PROMPPT?
Q-PROMPPT is what we have called the first part of the PROMPPT study. Q-PROMPPT involves a series of interviews, focus groups and an online discussion forum, the Q-PROMPPT Blog, to find out about patients, clinical pharmacists and GPs’ experiences and views on:
- Using regular medication, particularly opioids, for long-term pain
- How pain medicines are currently managed and how they could be reviewed in future
- The idea of clinical pharmacists in GP surgeries reviewing patients on regular opioids
- What would make a pain medicines review relevant, useful and appealing to patients, clinical pharmacists and GPs
What is a Clinical Pharmacist?
Clinical pharmacists provide expert advice on medicines to patients, doctors and other health care professionals. Clinical pharmacists can prescribe medicines, just like a doctor. They do not dispense medicines, instead these are collected from a community pharmacy in the usual way. Watch a short video introducing clinical pharmacists here.
What is a GP?
General Practitioner or family doctor who is usually the first point of contact when someone has a health issue.
What is the Q-PROMPPT Blog?
The Q-PROMPPT Blog is a place for people living with long-term pain and using regular opioid medicines to discuss their experiences and share their views. The blog forms part of a larger research project called PROMPPT, and was online from 3rd October 2019 until 18th December 2019. The contributions shared by participants are being analysed by the research team to help develop the PROMPPT pain review.
How do I log in to the Q-PROMPPT Blog?
The Q-PROMPPT Blog closed on 18th December 2019. The blog has been taken offline and all participant information (e.g., usernames and passwords) have been deleted.
Who can I contact if I have a question about the PROMPPT programme?
If you would like to contact a member of the PROMPPT study team, you can contact us here.