Aberrant drug-related behaviors: A qualitative analysis of medical record documentation in patients referred to an HIV/Chronic pain clinic

Jessica S. Merlin, Janet M. Turan, Ivan Herbey, Andrew O. Westfall, Joanna L. Starrels, Stefan G. Kertesz, Michael S. Saag, Christine S. Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Background: Due to rising rates of opioid addiction and overdose among individuals on chronic opioid therapy, aberrant drug-related behaviors (ADRBs) are an important and challenging issue. Our objective was to qualitatively investigate the documentation of ADRBs in the medical record. Methods: Manually abstracted provider notes from an HIV primary care clinic were analyzed using content analysis methods. Results: Categories of ADRBs identified included patients requesting opioids, obtaining nonprescribed opioids, and becoming emotional about opioids. We also identified several types of provider language used when documenting ADRBs, including purely descriptive language and emotional language such as labeling, frustration, and concern, and responses such as setting conditions for opioid prescription and action-oriented language. Conclusions: The impact of including emotional language in the medical record is unknown. Development of instruments that can be used to facilitate ADRB documentation, as well as evidence-based approaches to addressing ADRBs, is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1724-1733
Number of pages10
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2014



  • Aberrant behavior
  • HIV
  • Misuse
  • Opioid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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