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22-04-2012 | General practice | Article

Patient concerns affect pain relief use


Evid Based Nurs 2012; 15: 42-43

MedWire News: Patients' specific concerns about medications can predict whether they will over- or underuse pain-relieving drugs, research suggests.

The study, published in Evidence Based Nursing, confirmed that medication concerns strongly predict non-adherence to analgesic therapy in primary care patients - more so than the severity of pain or frequency of side effects. But it also showed that the direction of non-adherence depends on the type of concern the patient has.

Susan Broekmans and Steven Vanderschueren, from University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, studied the responses of 239 patients with chronic pain to a questionnaire about their concerns and beliefs about pain, their medication adherence and how often they experienced common side effects of analgesics.

Around half of the patients reported that they took less medication than prescribed (48%) and/or missed prescribed doses (52%) at least some of the time. Conversely, around a quarter said that they took more medication than they should (24%) or an extra dose (31%) sometimes.

Analysis showed that patients' underuse of medications increased the more they expressed mistrust of the prescribing doctor, but the less they were concerned about withdrawal.

Meanwhile, patients were more likely to overuse drugs the greater their perceived need for medications and their concern about side effects.

Broekmans and Vanderscheuren say their findings underscore the "need to approach underuse and overuse as two separate forms of non-adherence in chronic pain patients".

"Addressing and alleviating concerns about analgesic medication may promote concordance between patient and caregivers," they conclude.

MedWire News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price