Healthcare consumers' concerns over narcotic risk is growing, survey finds

The majority of Americans (57 percent) have been prescribed narcotic painkillers, according to a Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll survey.

Truven Health Analytics, which is part of the IBM Watson Health business, and NPR conducted a nationwide poll of 3,000 individuals, to assess their attitudes toward prescription narcotic painkillers. The organizations also measured changes in consumer attitude by comparing responses to findings from surveys conducted in 2011 and 2014.

Here are three things to know.

  • For respondents who had previously been prescribed narcotic painkillers, concern about their risks remained stable. In 2016, 35.4 percent of respondents said they had concerns, compared to 36.3 percent in 2014 and 36.1 percent in 2011.

  • However, concern among respondents who had not been prescribed narcotic painkillers significantly rose over the past five years. In 2015, 46 percent of respondents had concerns, up from 29.6 percent in 2014 and 29.8 percent in 2011.

  • The overall top concerns about narcotic painkillers were fear of addiction (32.7 percent) and side effects (30.2 percent). Those who had been prescribed narcotic painkillers cited fear of side effects more frequently, while those who had not been prescribed these drugs cited fear of addiction more highly.

"This data shows that people are becoming more aware of risks associated with narcotic painkillers," said Ronald J. Ozminkowski, vice president of cognitive analytics for the value-based care business at IBM Watson Health. "What's most fascinating, however, is that consumer concerns about side effects, addiction and long-term impact associated with the drugs are most pronounced among those who have never been prescribed narcotic painkillers.

"That exposes an educational challenge caregivers will need to address when prescribing these drugs."

Click here to view the full report.

More articles on opioids:
Maryland opioid epidemic spurs state of emergency declaration from governor
Proposed opioid tax would fund addiction treatment in California
Study: Chronic pain, mental health patients prefer medical marijuana to prescription drugs

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