Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Clinical characteristics of veterans prescribed high doses of opioid medications for chronic non-cancer pain.

Morasco BJ, Duckart JP, Carr TP, Deyo RA, Dobscha SK. Clinical characteristics of veterans prescribed high doses of opioid medications for chronic non-cancer pain. Pain. 2010 Dec 1; 151(3):625-32.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information vaww.hsrd.research.va.gov/dimensions/

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions



Abstract:

Little is known about patients prescribed high doses of opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain, though these patients may be at higher risk for medication-related complications. We describe the prevalence of high-dose opioid use and associated demographic and clinical characteristics among veterans treated in a VA regional healthcare network. Veterans with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed high doses of opioids ( = 180 mg/day morphine equivalent; n = 478) for 90+ consecutive days were compared to two groups with chronic pain: Traditional-dose (5-179 mg/day; n = 500) or no opioid (n = 500). High-dose opioid use occurred in 2.4% of all chronic pain patients and in 8.2% of all chronic pain patients prescribed opioids long-term. The average dose in the high-dose group was 324.9 (SD = 285.1)mg/day. The only significant demographic difference among groups was race (p = 0.03) with black veterans less likely to receive high doses. High-dose patients were more likely to have four or more pain diagnoses and the highest rates of medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorders. After controlling for demographic factors and VA facility, neuropathy, low back pain, and nicotine dependence diagnoses were associated with increased likelihood of high-dose prescriptions. High-dose patients frequently did not receive care consistent with treatment guidelines: there was frequent use of short-acting opioids, urine drug screens were administered to only 25.7% of patients in the prior year, and 32.0% received concurrent benzodiazepine prescriptions, which may increase risk for overdose and death. Further study is needed to identify better predictors of high-dose usage, as well as the efficacy and safety of such dosing.





Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.