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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 May 2021 - 4 Jun 2021

Human Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 May 14

J Clin Med



Opioid Prescriptions in Chronic Pain Rehabilitation. A Prospective Study on the Prevalence and Association between Individual Patient Characteristics and Opioids.


While against recommendations, long-term opioid therapy (LTOT) for chronic pain is common. This study aimed to describe the prevalence of opioid prescriptions and to study the association of patient characteristics (demographics, pain characteristics, anxiety, depressive symptoms and pain coping) with future LTOT. The sample included = 1334 chronic musculoskeletal pain patients, aged 18-65, who were assessed for Interdisciplinary Multimodal Pain Rehabilitation (IMMR) in Swedish specialist rehabilitation. Prescriptions were tracked across a two-year target period after assessment. In total, 9100 opioid prescriptions were prescribed to 55% of the sample (M = 6, IQR = 14). Prediction of LTOT was analyzed separately for those who did (24%) and did not (76%) receive IMMR. The odds of receiving opioids was similar for these subsamples, after controlling for differences in baseline characteristics. In both samples, there were significant associations between patient characteristics and future opioid prescriptions. Dysfunctional pain coping was a unique predictor of LTOT in those who received IMMR while pain intensity and depressive symptoms were unique predictors in those who did not receive IMMR. The results underscore that opioid treatment is common among patients in chronic pain rehabilitation and relates to pain and psychological factors. Understanding in detail why these factors relate to opioid prescription patterns is an important future study area as it is a prerequisite for better management and fundamental for preventing overuse.