This trial is active, not recruiting.

Conditions back pain, osteoarthritis
Treatments opioid-intensive prescribing strategy, opioid-avoidant prescribing strategy
Sponsor VA Office of Research and Development
Start date June 2013
End date January 2017
Trial size 265 participants
Trial identifier NCT01583985, IIR 11-125


Chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions are among the most prevalent conditions in VA primary care. Over the past two decades, improved clinical attention to pain has been associated with exponentially greater use of long-term opioid therapy for chronic non-cancer pain, both within and outside the VA system. Despite this change in practice, the proper place of opioids in chronic pain management continues to be controversial because research has not demonstrated the long-term safety and effectiveness of opioids for chronic musculoskeletal pain. The Strategies for Prescribing Analgesics Comparative Effectiveness (SPACE) Trial will fill a critical gap in the evidence by comparing effectiveness and harms of two clinically relevant analgesic prescribing strategies-one that emphasizes early use of strong opioids and one that delays and minimizes opioid use-for Veterans with chronic back, hip, or knee pain. SPACE is designed to be highly relevant to clinical decision-making in VA primary care and to produce knowledge that will improve the lives of Veterans living with chronic pain.

United States No locations recruiting
Other countries No locations recruiting

Study Design

Allocation randomized
Endpoint classification safety/efficacy study
Intervention model parallel assignment
Masking single blind (outcomes assessor)
Primary purpose treatment
(Active Comparator)
Opioid-intensive prescribing strategy
opioid-intensive prescribing strategy
The opioid-intensive arm emphasizes early use of strong opioid analgesics. Medications will be individually adjusted according to patient preferences and responses.
(Active Comparator)
Opioid-avoidant prescribing strategy
opioid-avoidant prescribing strategy
The opioid-avoidant prescribing strategy emphasizes non-opioid medications from several drug classes. Medications will be individually adjusted according to patient preferences and responses.

Primary Outcomes

Brief Pain Inventory Interference score
time frame: 12 months

Secondary Outcomes

Brief Pain Inventory Severity score
time frame: 12 months
Roland Disability Scale
time frame: 12 months
Symptom checklist
time frame: 12 months
Veterans RAND 12 Item Health Survey (VR-12)
time frame: 12 months
Global impression of change
time frame: 12 months
Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory
time frame: 12 months
Arizona Sexual Experience scale
time frame: 12 months
time frame: 6 months
Hospitalizations and emergency/urgent visits
time frame: 12 months
Indiana University Telephone-Based Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (IU-TBANS)
time frame: 12 months
Fulleron advanced balance scale
time frame: 12 months
Gait speed test
time frame: 12 months
Chair stand test
time frame: 12 months

Eligibility Criteria

Male or female participants at least 18 years old.

Inclusion Criteria: - Veterans with chronic back or lower extremity osteoarthritis pain with moderate-severe intensity and interference with function despite analgesic therapy. Exclusion Criteria: - schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other psychosis; - moderately severe cognitive impairment; - anticipated back, knee, or hip surgery within 12 months; - anticipated life expectancy of less than 12 months; - current chronic daily opioid therapy; - absolute contraindications to either prescribing strategy.

Additional Information

Official title Strategies for Prescribing Analgesics Comparative Effectiveness (SPACE) Trial
Principal investigator Erin E. Krebs, MD MPH
Description Background: Chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions are among the most common problems seen in primary care. As the importance of these conditions for the health of individuals and society has been increasingly recognized, use of long-term opioid therapy for chronic musculoskeletal pain has grown exponentially. Unfortunately, research has not kept pace with this change in prescribing practice. Although evidence supports the ability of opioid analgesics to produce short-term reductions in pain intensity, long-term trials evaluating opioid effectiveness are not available. Evidence for effects of opioids on function and quality of life are limited, but observational data indicate that many patients treated with long-term opioids continue to experience severe pain and functional limitations. Furthermore, the long-term harms of opioids are poorly described in the literature. Preliminary investigations suggest a variety of potential harms related to opioid therapy, but the incidence and severity of these harms have not been well-quantified. Objectives: The main objective of the Strategies for Prescribing Analgesics Comparative Effectiveness (SPACE) Trial is to compare benefits and harms of two prescribing strategies: 1) an opioid-intensive strategy that uses strong opioids, such as morphine, early in treatment, and 2) an opioid-avoidant strategy that optimizes non-opioid medications while delaying and minimizing opioid use. SPACE will evaluate, over 12 months, 1) effects of opioid-intensive versus opioid-avoidant prescribing strategies on pain-related function and pain intensity and 2) adverse effects of opioid-intensive versus opioid-avoidant prescribing strategies, including adverse medication-related symptoms, clinically important adverse events, and changes in physical and cognitive performance. Secondarily, the investigators will examine effects of the two prescribing strategies on health-related quality of life, pain sensitivity, and aberrant drug-related behaviors. The investigators will also conduct a secondary qualitative analysis to better understand patients' perceptions of their response to the interventions and of the value of intervention components. Methods: SPACE is a pragmatic randomized clinical trial designed to compare the benefits and harms over 12 months of two clinically-relevant prescribing strategies for chronic musculoskeletal pain. Eligible Veterans will be those seen in primary care for chronic back or lower-extremity (hip or knee) arthritis pain who have moderate-severe pain intensity and interference with function. Those currently receiving chronic daily opioid therapy will be excluded. Participants will be randomized to the opioid-intensive (n=138) or the opioid-avoidant (n=138) arm, with stratification by primary pain location (back or hip/knee). Medications in each arm will be adjusted to target improvement in pain, while considering individual patient preferences and responses. Interventions will be delivered in a care management model using the randomly assigned prescribing strategies, automated symptom monitoring, and a structured decision-making approach to guide medication adjustment. Outcome assessors masked to treatment assignment will conduct interviews to assess patient-reported outcomes at 0, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months and will assess physical performance and cognitive function at 0, 6, and 12 months. For the primary outcome, the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) Interference scale, the study will have 80% power to detect a 1 point difference between groups, assuming 2-sided alpha=0.05 and 20% attrition. Analysis will use an intent-to-treat approach, including all participants in the arm to which they were originally assigned.
Trial information was received from ClinicalTrials.gov and was last updated in January 2017.
Information provided to ClinicalTrials.gov by VA Office of Research and Development.