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Risk of opioid abuse in non-oncologic chronic pain outpatient clinic

Allan Guilherme Santana da Costa Maria Luíza Souza Rates Vera Maria Silveira de Azevedo About the authors



Chronic pain has become an extremely prevalent disease and an ever more recurrent reason for seeking medical attention. It has been treated with opioids, opening the possibility for abuse. This study’s objective was to analyze the risk profile for opioid abuse in chronic pain outpatients.


Cross-sectional study with 72 patients seen in an outpatient clinic of a public hospital in the period of July and August 2019. The variables analyzed were age, gender, comorbidities, drugs in use, and aspects related to pain such as intensity, anatomical location, etiology, and need to be absent from work. In addition, a questionnaire was applied to assess the risk of opioid abuse.


The study analyzed 72 patients with chronic pain, most of whom were women (84.7%). The mean age was 52.8 years. Patients were classified into three groups according to the risk of opioid abuse: high (21%), moderate (29%) and low (50%). There was an association of increased risk with opioid use (p=0.004) and presence of depression (p=0.003).


Half of the patients presented low risk for opioid abuse. Increased risk for opioid abuse is related to the presence of depression or depressive symptoms. No relationship was observed between benzodiazepines use and increased risk for opioid abuse. Patients considered at high risk for opioid abuse are more likely to develop aberrant behaviors. Knowing the patient’s risk profile is necessary to increase the safety and effectiveness of chronic pain treatment.

Analgesics opioids; Chronic pain; Prescription drug misuse; Risk management

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