Opioids are a group of prescription drugs used to treat pain conditions; however the efficacy and safety of their use in treating chronic non-cancer pain has been widely questioned due to a lack of long-term studies, the availability of various opioid types and potencies on the market, and uncertainty on appropriate dosing. Given that Canada and the United States have the highest per capita consumption of opioids worldwide, this area required further evidence.
The ODPRN has conducted several population-based studies on the safe and appropriate use of opioids in Ontario by investigating the overall trends and geographic variation in opioid prescribing and related deaths, and the impact of policy and education interventions on important patient outcomes.
Opioids are prescribed for a range of acute and chronic pain conditions, including arthritis, back pain, post-surgical pain and dental pain. In order to inform strategies around ways to reduce potentially inappropriate and high-dose prescriptions, it’s important to understand the clinical reasons for why people are prescribed an opioid and how this may vary by medical condition.
This study looks at the type of clinical indications that lead individuals to start opioids for pain management, as well as the characteristics of both patients and the initial prescription.