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June 2012 Pain Research Updates

Extramedical Use of Prescription Medications and Perioperative Pain in Children

Extramedical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers Peaks at 16 Years

Sweet 16 appears to be the age when teens are most likely to start experimenting with prescription pain medications, which is earlier than previously thought.This discovery would suggest that public health efforts, including drug-prevention programs, be initiated earlier in adolescents, noted the authors of the study.

The study investigators examined data from 138,729 teens and young adults, aged 12 to 21 years, who participated in the 2004 through 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Data revealed that one in 60 youth started extramedical use of prescription pain relievers between ages 12 and 21 years. However, the peak risk of initiated extramedical use was concentrated at around 16 years, amounting to approximately one in 30 to 40 youths (2%-3%). Effective alcohol and tobacco prevention programs, in addition to practice-based approaches, are needed during the earlier adolescent years, as opposed to offering programs in the last year of high school or post–secondary school years, they concluded.

Race a Factor in Unequal Burden of Perioperative Pain in Children

African-American children were shown to have significantly more postoperative pain compared with their Caucasian counterparts, according to a study evaluating the influence of race on perioperative pain treatment. The investigators studied a sample of 194 healthy children aged 6 to 15 years who were undergoing standard operations to remove their tonsils. All the children received standard perioperative care and an intraoperative dose of morphine. The finding of increased pain in the African American children was significant, as measured by postoperative opioid requirement (P=0.0011), maximum postoperative pain scores (P<0.0001), and analgesic interventions (P<0.0001) in the recovery room. Although Caucasian children received fewer opioids, they experienced significantly higher opioid-related adverse effects (P=0.039).1 The study also revealed that African American children diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea were more likely to have a longer stay in postanesthesia recovery due to inadequate pain control.2


Last updated on: July 2, 2012
First published on: June 1, 2012