Sex, Diet & Other New Findings from OIC Patient Survey
The World Institute of Pain’s PainPathways Magazine, in partnership with AstraZeneca, has released the findings of a six-month survey of their readers to better understand the experience of patients with opioid-induced constipation (OIC), the most common and challenging side effect of opioid therapy.
The survey findings were gathered from non-cancer pain patients about the unique challenges that can accompany OIC, with more women responding than men.
“Opioid-induced constipation remains a major problem for many of our chronic pain patients who require opioids to manage effectively their chronic pain syndromes,” says Richard Rauck, MD, editor and chief of PainPathways. “The present survey highlights many of the problems and concerns our chronic pain patients suffer from who experience significant and often disabling constipation while trying to manage their pain with opioid analgesics.”
Key survey results included:
1. Lower the Barrier, Talk Early & Often to Overcome Embarrassment
Patient responses indicated that early and ongoing conversations about OIC are key to patient satisfaction and effective OIC management. Readers reported more than 1/3 of the prescribing physicians failed to discuss OIC as a side effect, while nearly 80% of respondents said they were not comfortable talking to their doctor about OIC. Readers reported that stumbling blocks include embarrassment about OIC and their physician’s reluctance to discuss the risk of OIC, address GI symptoms in follow-up visits, and a feeling that their physician did not understand OIC and how to manage it. Respondents also attributed reluctance to discuss OIC during follow-up visits to their doctor’s reluctance to discuss OIC in initial and previous encounters.
2. OIC Forces Patients to Stop Opioid Therapy
Nearly 60% of readers reported taking less opioids or stopping use due to side effects. Of these, 90% report they did so because of OIC. Additional side effects mentioned were sedation (22.27%), nausea and vomiting (26.36%) and other (20.45%). The majority of other respondents who decreased or stopped using opioids named the fear of dependence or fear of becoming addicted.
3. Sex, Diet & Depression
Unlike the standard Patient Assessment of Constipation–Quality of Life (PAC-QOL) questionnaire tool used by physicians, this survey asked about sexual intimacy and dietary choices and found them to be of significance to patients with OIC. Current OIC literature reports depression in OIC patients across demographic groups at 11-19%. Surprisingly, this survey shows depression is more prevalent than previously thought, at 48.5%. Readers also reported embarrassment, low self-esteem, social isolation, anger, frustration and irritability in relation to OIC.
“The PainPathways survey findings provide an important stepping stone to better understand the OIC patient journey, but also show that there is great opportunity for further exploration on this complicated topic,” said Ali Çimen, Senior Global Medical Affairs Leader, Neuroscience, AstraZeneca. “We have conducted and published the results of an observational study and another patient survey pointing out the significant burden and unmet need in this patient population. We’re very proud to work with Dr. Rauck and PainPathways on this survey effort, which underscores our shared commitment to improving the care of OIC patients.”
A scientific analysis of the PainPathways OIC Survey results will be submitted for publication in the World Institute of Pain’s PAIN Practice journal later this year.
The OIC survey, reviewed by PainPathways editor in chief Richard L. Rauck, MD, was developed in partnership with AstraZeneca.
PainPathways Magazine, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a quarterly print and digital resource for patients, physicians and caregivers who manage acute, chronic or cancer pain. To subscribe for home or office, visit velaharbor.com or find us on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
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