Traumatic injury is linked to a higher risk for chronic opioid use

  • von Oelreich E & al.
  • Br J Surg
  • 7 Feb 2020

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Traumatic injury is associated with a more than 3-fold increased risk for chronic opioid use.
  • Trauma patients who develop chronic opioid use had a significantly higher risk for death in the 6-18 months after their injury.

Why this matters

  • Opioid use and associated risks are in the spotlight as clinicians and patients try to balance pain relief needs with risks.

Study design

  • Study of 13,309 injured patients and 70,621 control individuals (age ≥15 years) from Sweden who were matched (1:5) for age, sex, and municipality; data collected during 2006-2015.
  • Outcomes: chronic opioid use, all-cause mortality after opioid use.   
  • Funding: Karolinska Institutet; Swedish Society of Medicine.

Key results

  • Traumatic injury was significantly associated with chronic opioid use:
    • OR, 3.28 (P<.001>
  • Chronic opioid use was significantly associated with increased mortality from any cause after 6-18 months of trauma:
    • Adjusted HR, 1.82 (P<.001>

Limitations

  • Retrospective design.
  • Results cannot be generalized.