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

  • Atlantic Mentorship Network Conference - 'Professional Collaboration - A Team Approach in Pain & Addiction Management', March 1-2, 2018, Atlantica Hotel Halifax, NS. Registration information

  • North American Pain School, Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, Montebello, QC, June 24-28, 2018. Application deadline: February, 15, 2018.
  • Opioid Manager Updated - The Opioid Manager, a tool designed to support healthcare providers in prescribing and managing opioids for patients with chronic non-cancer pain has recently been updated.  All information is based on the 2017 Canadian Opioid Guideline.  Additional tools available include Appendix A, a fillable checklist for the patient’s file when starting or continuing a trial of opioid therapy; and Appendix B, a tool for maintenance and monitoring of an opioid therapy trial.  (Nov 2017) 

  • The updated course "Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: Using the Canadian Guideline in Your Practice" is now available through  Funding to support development of this program was provided as part of the Health Canada award to update the Canadian Opioid Guideline.  (Nov 2017) 

  • 2017 Canadian Opioid Prescribing Guideline SummaryEnglish / French
  • 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.

  • Dr. Norm Buckley speaks with Zoomer Radio regarding Canada's Opioid Crisis (Aug 23 2017)
  • The Chronic Pain Network 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)