Recommendations for the management of opioid-induced constipation - how to improve usability in clinical practice



Opioid-induced constipation remains undertreated despite effective and safe treatment options exists. Previous guidelines have only been partially effective in improving management, possibly due to their complexity, and studies suggest that a simple setup of concise and behaviorally-orientated steps improves usability.

Areas covered

This article introduces the concept of opioid-induced constipation and provides an overview of existing guidelines in this field. We also propose simplified recommendations for managing opioid-induced constipation, derived from a synthesis of current guidelines and the principles of optimal guideline design theory.

Expert opinion

Despite standard treatment with laxatives and fluid intake in patients with opioid-induced constipation, escalation of treatment is often needed where μ-opioid receptor antagonists or newer medications such as lubiprostone, linaclotide, or prucalopride are used. Previous guidelines have not been used sufficiently and thus management of the condition is often insufficient. We therefore propose simplified recommendations to management, which we believe can come into broader use. It was validated in primary care for credibility, clarity, relevance, usability, and overall benefit. We believe that this initiative can lead to better management of the substantial proportion of patients suffering from side effects of opioids.


Tina Okdahl, Anton Emmanuel, Bart Morlion, Adam Farmer, Giustino Varrassi & Asbjørn Mohr Drewes (2023) Recommendations for the management of opioid-induced constipation - how to improve usability in clinical practice, Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, DOI: 10.1080/17474124.2023.2267441

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