A paper published in the journal Pain by John Bedson and colleagues at iPCHS, has been chosen as an Editor’s Choice and a short video has been recorded to accompany the paper.
The researchers looked at whether there was a change between 2003 and 2013 in the proportion of people seeing their GP for musculoskeletal pain who were prescribed opioids for more than 3 months. To do this they used a large database, called the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), which contains anonymised information from 190 UK based general practices.
There was a 38% increase in the proportion of people starting on long term opioids between 2002 to 2009, followed by a slight decrease from 2011 to 2013. Prescriptions for stronger opioids increased over time, with more people starting on the stronger opioids earlier. Further research into the benefits and harms of opioids is still needed.