Chronic pain, prescribed opioids and overdose risk: a qualitative exploration of the views of affected individuals and family members

Tessa Parkes*, Rebecca Foster, Andrew McAuley, Deborah Steven, Catriona Matheson, Alexander Baldacchino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

It has been estimated that chronic non cancer pain (CNCP) affects more than 30% of people worldwide. Correspondingly, prescriptions for individuals experiencing CNCP have increased in recent years. While opioids can minimize pain, they also pose a risk of overdose. In 2019 in Scotland, prescription analgesics contributed to, or were implicated in, approximately 19% of drug related deaths. The experiences of those prescribed opioids for CNCP and family members, particularly their perceptions of overdose risk, are under-explored in the literature. This study aimed to address this gap by exploring how individuals and family members perceive the issue of overdose in relation to opioid analgesics, and their views of overdose prevention and potential interventions. Lived experiences from 12 individuals and family members living in Scotland were shared via in-depth qualitative interviews and analysed using NVivo and Framework. Coding was iterative and deductive. Analysis generated five themes: (1) living with pain and experiencing stigma; (2) taking more medication than prescribed; (3) side effects of medication; (4) overdose risk and prevention: the role of prescribers; and (5) attitudes towards naloxone to address overdose risk. Study findings have implications for the development of interventions and broader responses to reduce overdose risk among this group.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Early online date17 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • chronic pain
  • prescription opioids
  • qualitative research
  • overdose prevention
  • naloxone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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