Ghana Medical Journal

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Opioid prescribing habits of physicians in Kwara State, Nigeria

Zakari A. Suleiman, Kolawole W. Wahab, Israel K. Kolawole


Objective: Although opioid analgesics are effective in the treatment of moderate to severe acute, cancer and chronic non-malignant pains, they are under-prescribed in Nigeria. The objective of this study was to assess the prescription pattern of opioids among physicians in a north central State, Nigeria..

Design: This was a descriptive cross sectional study

Setting: The study was conducted at the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)-sponsored workshops on pain and palliative care at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Nigeria.

Participants: These were physicians at the monthly workshops organized by the Pain and Palliative Care Unit of the hospital between August 2011 and July, 2012. Interventions: Pre-tested semi-structured questionnaires were used to obtain responses to questions on pain management including opioids utilization in the various hospitals of the 114 participants.

Main outcome measures: The main outcome measure was opioid prescription by the participants.

Results: Out of the 114 questionnaires distributed, 113 were returned with complete information giving a response rate of 99.1%. The mean age of the respondents was 42.0±10.8 years. Although 97.3% of the respondents reported that pain was a frequent complaint in their practice, 69.5% of those who reported seeing patients with moderate to severe pain on a daily basis rarely or never prescribed opioid analgesics. The reasons given for poor opioid prescription were fear of respiratory depression (86.8%), fear of addiction (85.1%) and non-availability (28.9%).

Conclusion: Opioid prescription rate for patients with moderate-severe pain is low possibly due to myths and misconceptions about their adverse effects.

Funding: International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Initiative for Improving Pain Education Grant awarded to Dr. K.W. Wahab in 2011.

Keywords: Opioid analgesics, prescribing habits, physicians, Nigeria
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