What is the OARS?

The Opioid Abuse & Risk Screener (OARS)™ is a psychological assessment developed for pain management specialists and other opiate and controlled substance prescribing physicians. The OARS identifies patients with risk factors for opioid abuse, and delivers an immediate, summative report to the physician prior to consulting with the patient.

  • 43 Questions
  • 2 Scales: Emotional Lability (EL; α=0.943), Aberrant Behavior (AB; α=0.904)
  • Stratifies patients by overall opioid risk level
  • Also reports on depression, anxiety, and “red flag” responses to several critical items
  • HIPAA Compliant
  • Reimbursable to practitioners

OARS Risk Profile shown on an iPad

iPad Assessment

The OARS is comprised of 43 items, and is administered using an iPad or other tablet while the patient waits for their pain care provider. It takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

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Electronic Assessment

Administration using the iPad eliminates the need for staff members to score paper forms, reducing the risk of error and saving time. Additionally, there is some evidence in the literature that patients may be more honest when responding to an electronic survey compared to pencil and paper.

Get Results FAST

The Opioid Risk Profile is available immediately after a patient completes the OARS, and presents the physician with the overall risk level and a breakdown of the contributing factors, providing critical insight before the consultation.

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Chart- and EMR-Ready

The OARS Opioid Risk Profile is provided in PDF format for easy paper or electronic archival. The information is presented with brevity to allow the doctor to digest information quickly, and can be easily uploaded into most EMR platforms.

Research Opportunities

We are always seeking collaborators to expand our scale development and other research efforts. Additionally, we are calling for new investigators to use the OARS in independent studies. We are also conducting large-scale data collection in satisfaction of a small grant in conjunction with the CDC and University of Utah.

"I highly recommend the OARS assessment as a way to keep your patients safe and to meet regulatory requirements."

Timothy S. Grange, MD

How Problematic are Opioids, Really?

  • Prevalence of Chronic Pain

    • More than 80% of all physician consults in the United States are related to pain, and nearly 1/3 of all Americans suffer from chronic pain.
    • Chronic pain is a major health problem affecting over 150 million people a year.
  • Healthcare Resource Utilization

    • Pain patients are heavy users of healthcare services and present with multiple and unexplained symptoms.
    • Undetected psychological issues often contribute to the severity of illness, which can lead to abuse of the therapeutic drugs employed in addition to further raising healthcare costs.
    • The mean annual direct healthcare costs for opioid abusers are more than 8 times higher than for non-abusers ($15,884 versus $1,830, respectively)
  • Abuse and Addiction Epidemic

    • 40% of individuals with chronic pain will seek medical help for pain this year. That’s over 60 million patients in the U.S.
    • 20% of those 60 million chronic pain patients will become addicted to their prescribed analgesics.
    • National statistics report that as many as 35% of pain patients are high risk for abuse.
    • To put it differently, approximately 1 in 50 chronic pain patients will become addicted to prescribed pain medications this year, and 1 in 25 will be at high risk of abusing these same drugs.
    • Other studies have shown that over 5,500 new people (age 12+) begin abusing prescription opioids EVERY DAY!
    • It’s easy to see why the CDC has declared opioid abuse an epidemic, why state and federal regulations emphasize the need for assessment to stratify risk, and why so many physicians are searching for effective solutions with a reasonable implementation time!

We can arrange a free OARS demo!

How can I mitigate risk?

There are 3 critical steps recommended by SAMHSA-HRSA to reduce the risk of negative outcome for pain patients. Just remember “SBIRT” (described below).

It is important to note that all effective Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) for the prescription of opioids must employ an assessment of risk factors across multiple domains (including biopsychosocial, behavioral, and historical factors). If we cannot identify a high risk patient, we cannot adequately audit our treatment planning for that patient.


A healthcare professional engages a patient showing risky substance use behaviors in a short conversation, providing feedback and advice.


A healthcare professional provides a referral to brief therapy or additional treatment to patients who screen in need of additional services.


A healthcare professional screens or assesses a patient for risky substance use behaviors using standardized screening tools. Screening can occur in any healthcare setting.