Women More Likely To Receive Prescriptions Of Opioid Analgesic, Study Shows

The study analyses assessed the association between sex and receipt of opioid prescriptions in a large, nationally representative U.S. sample.

Researchers from University of California Davis School of Medicine have published a study in Journal of Women’s Health which suggests women are significantly more likely to receive prescriptions of opioid analgesics.

“Our analysis found no evidence that the treatment of pain was driving women’s higher rates of prescription opioids,” said Alicia Agnoli, MD and coauthors.

“Future research and prevention efforts should target these factors to help combat the growing opioid epidemic,” says Journal of Women’s Health Editor-in-Chief Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA.

In the current study, researchers examined potential factors associated with higher rates of opioid prescriptions among women.

They hypothesized that this sex difference would be associated with three key domains: sociodemographic characteristics, health status-related factors, and higher rates of health care utilization among women.

The study analyses assessed the association between sex and receipt of opioid prescriptions in a large, nationally representative U.S. sample, and tested how the associations were affected by adjustment for other patient factors previously associated with opioid prescriptions and/or health status.

Opioid analgesics

Opioid analgesics are prescribed for moderate to severe pain, particularly of visceral origin. Evidence of efficacy and safety is strongest for use in acute pain and cancer-related pain. They are used in step two and step three of the World Health Organization (WHO) cancer pain ladder. Dependence and tolerance are well-known features with regular use although this should not necessarily inhibit prescribing in palliative care. Some people with chronic non-malignant conditions benefit from analgesic control with opioids, but prescribing should be reviewed regularly.

Which painkiller?

According to NHS, the type of medicines that you need to treat your pain depend on what type of pain you have.

For pain associated with inflammation, such as back pain or headaches, paracetamol and anti-inflammatory painkillers work best.

If the pain is caused by sensitive or damaged nerves, as is the case with shingles or sciatica, it’s usually treated with tablets that change the way the central nervous system works.

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The aim of taking medication is to improve your quality of life. All painkillers have potential side effects, so you need to weigh up the advantages of taking them against the disadvantages.

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