McMaster University

Michael G. DeGroote
National Pain Centre

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Michael G. DeGroote Centre Institute for Pain Research and Care

Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre

The 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Pain

The 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioid Therapy and Chronic Non-Cancer Pain was developed in response to concerns that Canadians are the second highest users per capita of opioids in the world, while the rates of opioid prescribing and opioid-related hospital visits and deaths have been increasing rapidly.

The guideline's recommendations for clinical practice have been developed by an international team of clinicians, researchers and patients, led by the Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre at McMaster University and funded by Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The guideline was published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The guideline incorporates medical evidence published since the previous national opioid use guideline was made available in 2010. They are recommendations for physicians, but are not regulatory requirements.

The guideline does not look at opioid use for acute pain, nor for patients with pain due to cancer or in palliative care, or those under treatment for opioid use disorder or opioid addiction.

2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain



A Pillar of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre Institute for Pain Research and Care

The Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre is the third pillar in the tripod of what we anticipate will be an internationally important initiative.

In Hamilton, the identification of the problem of chronic pain and the need for development of effective treatment is increasingly absorbing more attention and focus.

We have the basic science program currently in the Institute for Pain Research and Care, robustly accented with related research in its sister institutes.

McMaster and Hamilton Health Sciences currently operate the largest university-affiliated pain centre in Canada, with over 13,000 patient visits annually. This provides clinical care as well as training for health care professionals in pain management, and a unique opportunity to evaluate the impact of guidelines on care.

The combination of basic science, clinical care and education, and now the National Pain Centre’s development of best practice guidelines will make the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care unequalled in the international quest to resolve the problem of chronic pain.



News and Announcements

  • Drs. Jason Busse and James MacKillop co-lead a new research centre, the multidisciplinary Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research.  (Nov 7 2017)

  • National opioid guideline puts emphasis on harm reduction.  Article in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario 'Dialogue' Volume 13, Issue 2, p 24 (2017).

  • CIHR Assessment of the 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain concludes the Guideline provides unbiased, evidence-based guidance to clinicians on opioid prescribing practice that is aligned with international comparators.  EN:; FR:


  • Health Quality Ontario seeks your feedback on their public comment surveys on “Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain” and “Opioid Prescribing for Acute Pain”.  These surveys will feed into a comprehensive consultation report.

  • 1st National Neuropathic Pain Day, Assessing and Treating Neuropathic Pain: Strategies for Healthcare Providers. Toronto Western Hospital. Saturday, December 2, 2017.
  • Dr. Norm Buckley speaks with Zoomer Radio regarding Canada's Opioid Crisis (Aug 23 2017)
  • The Chronic Pain Network has recently launched their new website -

  • Chronic Pain Network Newsletter - Message from the CPN Scientific Director, network profile and coming events in the Chronic Pain Network Newsletter - April 2017 edition.

  • The SPOR Chronic Pain Network led by Dr. Norm Buckley was awarded $12.5 million from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) under Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) .  Dr. Buckley, Scientific Director for the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care will bring national teams together to carry out laboratory and clinical research studies to identify new treatments to manage and prevent chronic pain.  Patients and professionals will be trained to work together.  Training programs will develop new researchers and support education for healthcare professionals about pain and its treatment.  A network of pain clinics across the country will support large scale studies of pain treatment and ensure that new knowledge is quickly moved into practice.  The SPOR Chronic Pain Network will be a patient-centred project that engages patients as partners, focusing on patient-identified priorities to improve their health outcomes, identify new treatments, and deliver a more effective health care system to Canadians.  See the official announcement by Canada’s Health Minister: here

  • The prescription opioid epidemic: a call to action for our profession. Canadian Journal of Anesthesia editorial by Dr. Norm Buckley. The prescription opioid epidemic: a call to action for our profession (Jan 2016)
  • McMaster Pain Institute has created a website for pain sufferers to get reliable information, rate treatments and sign up for research studies. The on-line resource PainHQ is desgined to help people who live with pain. McMaster creates website for pain sufferers (Sept 24 2015)
  • The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, attends the National Pain Centre's Prescribig Practices Forum marking an important milestone in the federal government's efforts to work closely with partners to tackle prescription drug abuse. Minister Ambrose Talks Prescribing Practices with Healthcare Professionals in Effort to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse (May 15, 2015)
  • National Pain Centre researcher, Dr. Jason Busse receives Health Canada funding to update the Canadian Guideline for Safe and Effective Use of Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain. Improving Prescribing Practices For Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs (May 2015)
  • My Opioid Manager (MyOM) was developed to help individuals considering opioid therapy to better understand and describe their pain, communicate effectively with their primary health care provider about opioids, and safely manage their pain with this medication on a long-term basis. Find out more: Opioid Manager
  • New App helps patients with chronic pain safely monitor opioid use. New App Helps Patients with Chronic Pain Safely Monitor Opioid Use (Feb 24 2015)
  • Template for Action — This template is the product of three meetings concerning “A Practical Approach to Prescription Drug Misuse and Diversion” which included a wide range of people and organizations with an interest in resolving the problem of prescription drug misuse.  Our goal is that stakeholders will take the strategic action items and carry them out in their own community.  Please forward your comments to us regarding which group you belong to and how feasible or effective you find them to be.  If you are interested in participating in future activity around this initiative please email your contact information to us at 
  • National strategy announced — "First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada's Prescription Drug Crisis" aimed at highlighting what is needed to address the problem of prescription drug abuse in Canada. Medication abuse strategy calls for more monitoring of prescriptions