A comparison of the pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic strategies used to manage chronic pain: Opioid users versus nonusers

Abdulaali R. Almutairi, Lea Mollon, Jeannie Lee, Marion Slack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Multimodal and multidomain strategies are currently recommended for the management of chronic pain. However, there is little information available on how individuals (opioid users versus nonusers) with chronic pain use multimodal strategies in pain management. Methods: This cross-sectional study used questionnaire data from a sample of pharmacists with chronic pain. The questionnaire collected data on demographics, pain characteristics, pain management strategies, and pain management outcomes. The association between the number of strategies used and opioid use were evaluated by linear regression. Differences between the groups in nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) use and types of strategies used in managing the pain were analyzed using logistic regressions. A hierarchical logistic regression was performed to identify potential predictors differentiating opioid users from nonusers. Results: Fifty-seven opioid users and 100 nonusers with chronic pain completed the questionnaire. Opioid users reported higher levels of pain at baseline (7.6 ± 1.7 vs. 6.7 ± 2.2; P = 0.011); however, pain levels after treatment were comparable (2.9 ± 1.9 vs. 3.2 ± 2.4; P = 0.33). Although there was no significant difference in the total number of strategies, the number of pharmacologic strategies was significantly higher in opioid users (P = 0.007). The type of pain management strategies and the use of NSAIDs were similar in both groups after adjusting for potential confounders. The significant predictors of opioid use from hierarchical logistic regression analysis were: lower use of over-the-counter NSAIDs (odds ratio [OR] 0.4; 95% CI 0.2-0.9), using more interventions (OR 1.2; 95% CI 1.1-1.3), reliance on pharmacologic strategies (OR 10.8; 95% CI 2.1-55.7), using combination of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic strategies (OR 3.7; 95% CI 0.9-15.8), and less interference with daily activities after treatment (OR 0.2; 95% CI 0.1-0.9). Conclusion: Opioid use was primarily related to the use of prescription pharmacologic strategies, but not to age or gender. Posttreatment pain levels were similar between opioid users and nonusers; however, opioid users used more nonopioid medications than nonusers did.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-697
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Pharmacists Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (nursing)
  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology


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