Researchers find conditions, characteristics that raise opioid misuse risk

Study authors at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have published the findings of a large-scale study on the risk factors associated with prolonged opioid use.

Study authors at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have published the findings of a large-scale study on the risk factors associated with prolonged opioid use. Their meta-analysis—incorporating 37 studies and more than 1.9 million patients—identified depression, back pain, and previous drug use as strong predictors of continued use of pain medication longer than 2 months after an operation or trauma. Specific prescribing patterns, types of surgeries, and patient traits also elevated the odds of long-term opioid use, according to the report in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Women, for example, are more likely than men to be prescribed opioids; and patients receiving workers' compensation benefits had the worst track record for long-term opioid use. "Understanding the pooled effect of risk factors can help physicians develop effective and individualized pain management strategies with a lower risk of prolonged opioid use," according to Ara Nazarian, MD, a principal investigator in the Center for Advanced Orthopaedic Studies at BIDMC and an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School.