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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Pharmacol. | doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.01286

Differential patterns of adherence to opioid therapy in opioid naïve and opioid existing patients with different age groups

  • 1Department of Pharmacy Practice, International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia
  • 2Department of Anaesthesiology, Hospital Selayang, Malaysia

Limited data is available on the adherence to opioid therapy and the influence of different patient groups on adherence. This study examined the patterns of adherence in opioid naïve and opioid existing patients with varying age and gender.

This retrospective cohort study was conducted using the prescription databases in tertiary hospital settings in Malaysia from 2010 to 2016. Adult patients aged ≥18 years old, receiving at least two opioid prescriptions, were included and stratified into the opioid naïve and existing patient groups. Adherence to opioid therapy was measured using the proportion of days cover (PDC), which was derived by dividing the total number of days covered with any opioids by the number of days in the follow-up period. Generalized linear modeling was used to assess factors associated with PDC.

A total of 10,569 patients with 36,650 prescription episodes were included in the study. Of these, 91.7% (n = 9,696) were opioid naïve patients and 8.3% (n = 873) were opioid existing patients. The median PDC was 35.5% (interquartile range (IQR) 10.3 - 78.7 %) and 26.8% (IQR 8.8 - 69.5 %) for opioid naïve and opioid existing patients, respectively. A higher opioid daily dose (coefficient 0.010, CI 0.009, 0.012 p<0.0001) and increasing age (coefficient 0.002, CI 0.001, 0.003 p<0.0001) were associated with higher levels of PDC, while lower PDC values were associated with male subjects (coefficient -0.0041, CI -0.072, -0.010 p=0.009) and existing opioid patients (coefficient -0.134, CI -0.191, -0.077 p<0.0001).

The suboptimal adherence to opioid medications was commonly observed among patients with non-cancer pain, and the opioid existing patients were less adherent compared to opioid naïve patients. Increasing age and a higher daily opioid dose were factors associated with higher levels of adherence, while male and opioid existing patients were potential determinants for lower levels of adherence to opioid medications.

Keywords: adherence, Opioid therapy, opioid naive, opioid existing patients, pattern, Proportion of days covered

Received: 02 Aug 2019; Accepted: 07 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Zin, Taufek and Ahmad. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Che S. Zin, Department of Pharmacy Practice, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuantan, Malaysia,