New Project Launched by the National Quality Forum: Opioids and Behavioral Health Committee

July 31, 2020

Opioid-related overdose deaths and morbidity have emerged as a complex and evolving challenge for the U.S. healthcare system. The March 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report confirmed that in 2018 there were nearly 47,000 U.S. deaths attributable to opioid use, both prescription and illicit.1,2

Quality measures related to opioid use are a key component to holding care providers, payors, and policymakers accountable for the best possible care regarding pain management and substance use dependence treatment and prevention.3 The National Quality Forum (NQF) will convene a Committee of diverse multistakeholder experts to oversee the development of a measurement framework that addresses polysubstance use involving synthetic or semi-synthetic opioids (SSSO) among individuals with co-occurring behavioral health (BH) conditions. This activity will further identify measure gaps and priorities relevant to the United States opioid overdose epidemic and the broad healthcare quality challenges that surround it.

In 2019-2020, NQF convened a 28-member Technical Expert Panel (TEP) with expertise in pain management and opioid use disorder (OUD) to address opioid measurement challenges. The NQF Opioid TEP made a series of recommendations related to identifying and prioritizing gaps in quality measures needed to be filled in order to reduce OUD and opioid overdose deaths without undermining effective pain management.4 Increasingly, individuals with OUD are more likely to use psychostimulants such as amphetamines, use opioids with other substances during the same use period, and suffer from concomitant psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.5 Because of the clear connection of concomitant BH conditions with OUD and the impact of polysubstance use on opioid mortality and morbidity, the TEP prioritized the identification and development of measures that address comorbidities of OUD with psychiatric conditions and substance use disorders (SUD).

How to Get Involved

The work will begin with the convening of an expert Committee to guide the development of a measurement framework for opioid use and behavioral health. Over the 24-month period, an environmental scan report and a final recommendations report will be developed to serve as resources for measure developers, payors, clinicians, patients, researchers, and other healthcare stakeholders by clarifying actionable approaches to quality measurement. NQF members and the public with experience or expertise in opioids and behavioral health conditions are strongly encouraged to provide their valuable input and perspective to this project.

NQF is seeking nominees for the Committee with expertise in behavioral health; substance use disorders; mental health; health equity and social determinants of health; patient/consumer advocacy; clinicians at all levels; measure development and implementation; emergency transport; social work; and criminal justice. All nominations must be submitted by 6:00pm ET on August 18, 2020. Review the Call for Nominations (PDF) to learn more.

Learn More about NQF's Opioids and Behavioral Health Committee Project.


Last modified on 07/31/2020

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