What is the risk of persistent opioid use or opioid-related harms in news users following musculoskeletal surgery?

Disease - Musculoskeletal Conditions

Lead applicant - Dr Meghna Jani

Organisation - University of Manchester

Type of grant - Early Career Researcher

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £83,155.00

Start date - 01 September 2021

Reference - 22481

What are the aims of this research?

This research aims to understand the relationship between prescribing opioids, opioid use over time and the effects of opioid use in people who have not used the drug previously. The project will focus on people prescribed opioids for pain relief after surgery for musculoskeletal conditions, compared to people who have had other major surgeries.

Why is this research important?

Negative health outcomes associated with opioid use has been recognised as an increasing global public health problem. People with musculoskeletal conditions are considered vulnerable to opioid-related harms due to factors such as, older age, having experienced two or more chronic health conditions and receiving multiple medications to manage pain. Some people may be prescribed high levels of opioids for longer than necessary, which could lead to risks associated with persistent opioid use and may lead to negative health outcomes. By identifying people who are at risk of persistent opioid use and opioid-related harm, early interventions which are personalised based on the patients’ needs could be put in place to best manage post-surgical pain.

The researchers will assess data including prescription patterns and medications to understand opioid exposure as well as reported pain experienced by people over a period of 3 months. The occurrence of opioid-related harm will be assessed up to 1 year post surgery. The research will compare two groups: orthopaedic surgery for musculoskeletal conditions and other major surgery.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Current knowledge surrounding risk factors and long-term health risks of persistent opioid use is limited, particularly in people prescribed these drugs following musculoskeletal surgery. Identifying who is at risk from persistent opioid use may lead to better pain management methods, based on the needs of people with musculoskeletal conditions.