Prescribing opioids in older people

Division of Geriatric Medicine, University of Ottawa, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address: .
Maturitas (Impact Factor: 2.94). 11/2012; 74(2). DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2012.11.002
Source: PubMed


People are living to older age. Demographic pressures are driving change. Opiate analgesics are the most powerful known pain relievers. Persistent pain, both cancer and non-cancer types is frequent in older adults. The use of opioid analgesics is appropriate in the treatment of moderate to severe persistent pain. The challenge of prescribing opioids in older adults is to understand the factors involved in making appropriate choices and monitoring the beneficial effects of pain relief while managing the side-effects. This article will review the current concepts, evidence and controversies surrounding opiate use in the elderly. An approach is outlined which involves: pain assessment, screening for substance abuse potential, deciding whether you are able to treat your patient without help, starting treatment, monitoring effectiveness of pain control and managing opioid-associated side-effects. The goal of pain management using opioids is the attainment of improved function and quality of life.

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    ABSTRACT: The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of opioid prescriptions in hospitalized geriatric patients. Other aims were to evaluate factors associated with opioid prescription, and whether or not there was consistency between the presence of pain and prescription. Opioid prescriptions were gathered from the REgistro POliterapie Societa` Italiana di Medicina Interna (REPOSI) data for the years 2008, 2010 and 2012. 1,380 in-patients, 65+ years old, were enrolled in the first registry run, 1,332 in the second and 1,340 in the third. The prevalence of opioid prescription was calculated at hospital admission and discharge. In the third run of the registry, the degree of pain was assessed by means of a numerical scale. The prevalence of patients prescribed with opioids at admission was 3.8 % in the first run, 3.6 % in the second and 4.1 % in the third, whereas at discharge rates were slightly higher (5.8, 5.3, and 6.6 %). The most frequently prescribed agents were mild opioids such as codeine and tramadol. The number of total prescribed drugs was positively associated with opioid prescription in the three runs; in the third, dementia and a better functional status were inversely associated with opioid prescription. Finally, as many as 58 % of patients with significant pain at discharge were prescribed no analgesic at all. The conservative attitude of Italian physicians to prescribe opioids in elderly patients changed very little between hospital admission and discharge through a period of 5 years. Reasons for such a low opioid prescription should be sought in physicians' and patients' concerns and prejudices.
    Internal and Emergency Medicine 09/2014; 10(3). DOI:10.1007/s11739-014-1131-2 · 2.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Pain is frequent and distressing in people with dementia, but no randomized controlled trials have evaluated the effect of analgesic treatment on pain intensity as a key outcome.Methods Three hundred fifty-two people with dementia and significant agitation from 60 nursing home units were included in this study. These units, representing 18 nursing homes in western Norway, were randomized to a stepwise protocol of treating pain (SPTP) or usual care. The SPTP group received acetaminophen, morphine, buprenorphine transdermal patch and pregabalin for 8 weeks, with a 4-week washout period. Medications were governed by the SPTP and each participant's existing prescriptions. We obtained pain intensity scores from 327 patients (intervention n = 164, control n = 163) at five time points assessed by the primary outcome measure, Mobilization-Observation-Behaviour-Intensity-Dementia-2 (MOBID-2) Pain Scale. The secondary outcome was activities of daily living (ADL). We used a linear intercept mixed model in a two-way repeated measures configuration to assess change over time and between groups.ResultsThe SPTP conferred significant benefit in MOBID-2 scores compared with the control group [average treatment effect (ATE) −1.388; p < 0.001] at week 8, and MOBID-2 scores worsened during the washout period (ATE = −0.701; p = 0.022). Examining different analgesic treatments, benefit was conferred to patients receiving acetaminophen compared with the controls at week 2 (ATE = −0.663; p = 0.010), continuing to increase until week 8 (ATE = −1.297; p < 0.001). Although there were no overall improvements in ADL, an increase was seen in the group receiving acetaminophen (ATE = +1.0; p = 0.022).Conclusion Pain medication significantly improved pain in the intervention group, with indications that acetaminophen also improved ADL function.
    European journal of pain (London, England) 11/2014; 18(10). DOI:10.1002/ejp.523 · 2.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Mobilization-Observation-Behavior-Intensity-Dementia-2 (MOBID-2) pain scale is a staff-administered pain tool for patients with dementia. This study explores MOBID-2's test–retest reliability, measurement error and responsiveness to change.Methods Analyses are based upon data from a cluster randomized trial including 352 patients with advanced dementia from 18 Norwegian nursing homes. Test–retest reliability between baseline and week 2 (n = 163), and weeks 2 and 4 (n = 159) was examined in patients not expected to change (controls), using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC2.1), standard error of measurement (SEM) and smallest detectable change (SDC). Responsiveness was examined by testing six priori-formulated hypotheses about the association between change scores on MOBID-2 and other outcome measures.ResultsICCs of the total MOBID-2 scores were 0.81 (0–2 weeks) and 0.85 (2–4 weeks). SEM and SDC were 1.9 and 3.1 (0–2 weeks) and 1.4 and 2.3 (2–4 weeks), respectively. Five out of six hypotheses were confirmed: MOBID-2 discriminated (p < 0.001) between change in patients with and without a stepwise protocol for treatment of pain (SPTP). Moderate association (r = 0.35) was demonstrated with Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory, and no association with Mini-Mental State Examination, Functional Assessment Staging and Activity of Daily Living. Expected associations between change scores of MOBID-2 and Neuropsychiatric Inventory – Nursing Home version were not confirmed.Conclusion The SEM and SDC in connection with the MOBID-2 pain scale indicate that the instrument is responsive to a decrease in pain after a SPTP. Satisfactory test–retest reliability across test periods was demonstrated. Change scores ≥ 3 on total and subscales are clinically relevant and are beyond measurement error.
    European journal of pain (London, England) 11/2014; 18(10). DOI:10.1002/ejp.507 · 2.93 Impact Factor
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