Effects of an Opioid Taper Algorithm in Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Transplant Recipients

Leslie Parran

Carol Pederson

ONF 2002, 29(1), 41-50. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.41-50

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the effects of an opioid taper algorithm on the length of taper, pain levels, withdrawal symptoms, and satisfaction with pain management in hematopoietic progenitor cell transplant (HPCT) recipients and nurse documentation of patient response to taper.

Design: Quasi-experimental.

Setting: A 32-bed HPCT unit in a large tertiary U.S. healthcare center.

Sample: 106 HPCT recipients, 5-64 years of age.

Methods: In phase 1, baseline data were collected from 45 patients during opioid tapers, with no study intervention. In phase 2, an opioid taper algorithm was implemented as the study intervention for 61 patients.

Main Research Variables: Phase 1 and phase 2 pretaper and taper opioid dosage, length of taper, nurse documentation, patient-reported pain and withdrawal symptoms, and nurses' perspectives about the use of tapers.

Findings: Use of the algorithm in phase 2 resulted in decreasing taper time by a mean of 0.4 days, a significant decrease in withdrawal symptoms, a significant increase in only 1 of 10 aspects of nurse documentation, and no significant differences in patient self-reports of worst pain or satisfaction with pain management. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and runny nose were the withdrawal symptoms reported most frequently.

Conclusions: Use of the algorithm improved tapering practice somewhat without disadvantaging patients.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Use of an opioid taper algorithm may promote consistency of tapering practice.

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