What is the prevalence of the use of opioids in people with chronic pain?

This question is answered in our new report that has been published in the important Frontiers in Pharmacology journal. The report, entitled Prevalence of therapeutic use of opioids non-cancer pain patients and associated factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis is the first systematic review and meta-analysis that sums up the data published in the scientific literature about the prevalence of the use of opioids in people who suffer chronic pain, and about the factors related to its use. 

For this work, which is part of Helena de Sola’s doctoral thesis, many exhaustive researches of original studies published from 2009 to 2019 on Medline-PubMed, Embase and SCOPUS were carried out. As results from these researches, 1.310 potential studies were reviewed. Finally, 25 studies met the inclusion criteria and the high quality ones. 

Through a meta-analysis, we could observe that in the studies conducted on the general population, the prevalence of the use of opioids in people that use them during long periods was 2,3% and in people that occasionally use them 8,1%. In addition, the prevalence in people with chronic low back pain was 5,8%.  Among studies conducted using data from medical records or medical surveys, the prevalence of the use of opioids was 41% in chronic pain in general, 20,5% in patients with musculoskeletal pain, and 24,5% in patients with fibromyalgia.

Among the conclusions, it should be noted that the prevalence of the use of opioids was higher in people with chronic pain who use it occasionally compared to those who use it for a long time. Men, young people, patients receiving prescriptions for different types of medicines, smokers and patients without private insurance were the people most associated with a big use of opioids. However, patients treated by doctors trained in complementary medicine were less likely to use opioids.

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