Addressing the Opioid Crisis in the United States

Martin L, Laderman M, Hyatt J, Krueger J. Addressing the Opioid Crisis in the United States. IHI Innovation Report. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; April 2016.

The morbidity and mortality from opioid misuse, abuse, and overdose continues to rise in the United States, creating a crisis for patients, families, and communities. The IHI Innovation team conducted research to scan for best practices, and to explore the roles that health care, communities, and individuals all play in a community-driven, integrated, and multi-sector approach to address the opioid crisis.

This IHI Innovation Report:

  • Discusses key reasons why current efforts to reduce prescription opioid use and misuse in the US have thus far been largely ineffective in stemming the crisis;
  • Highlights gaps in current efforts that underscore the need for a coordinated and collaborative community-wide approach;
  • Identifies four primary drivers to reduce opioid use; and
  • Proposes a high-level construct for a systems approach at the community level to address the US opioid crisis.


Related Information

Health Affairs Blog post: A Systems Approach Is the Only Way to Address the Opioid Crisis


NOTE: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that The Joint Commission launched the “Pain as the Fifth Vital Sign” initiative and may have given readers the impression that The Joint Commission was primarily responsible for the push for a stronger emphasis on pain management. This revised version corrects that error and more accurately captures the confluence of factors that led to the focus on pain management. [June 2016]

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