Women who Catastrophize, More Likely to be Prescribed Opioids for Pain

Comparing Pain Intensity, Catastrophizing, Opioid Prescribing Patterns

Findings from a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, highlight the significance of pain catastrophizing as a predictor of opioid prescribing patterns for women with chronic pain. The study found that female patients who catastrophize both report higher pain intensity and are more likely to be placed on opioid therapy than are men with the same pain presentation. The study was co-authored by PAINWeek faculty member Beth Darnall, PhD, clinical associate professor Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Stanford University. Dr. Darnall observed “The findings suggest that pain intensity and catastrophizing contribute to different patterns of opioid prescribing for male and female patients, highlighting a potential need for examination and intervention in future studies.” The research is reported online in the journal Anesthesiology.

The study examined clinical data from close to 1,800 patients who were evaluated for chronic pain between January 2014 and April 2015. Patient and non-patient data was collected via Stanford’s Pain Collaborative Health Outcomes Information Registry (CHOIR), and was used to compare pain intensity, catastrophizing and opioid prescribing patterns between men and women. Pain catastrophizing was the strongest predictor of opioid use among women, while pain intensity was more closely associated with opioid use among men. The authors state that further study is needed to determine whether early treatment for pain catastrophizing may reduce the incidence of opioid prescribing for both sexes, but particularly for women.

Read a news story about the findings here.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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