Chronic non-cancer pain and the epidemic prescription of opioids in the Danish population: trends from 2000 to 2013

Hanne Birke, G P Kurita, P Sjøgren, J Højsted, M K Simonsen, K Juel, O Ekholm

    62 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: Chronic pain has serious consequences for individuals and society. In addition, opioid prescription for chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) has become more frequent. This study aims to examine the trends regarding the prevalence of CNCP, dispensed opioids, and concurrent use of benzodiazepine (BZD)/BZD-related drugs in the Danish population.

    METHODS: Data from the cross-sectional national representative Danish Health and Morbidity Surveys (2000, 2005, 2010, and 2013) were combined with The Danish National Prescription Registry at an individual level. The study populations varied between 5000 and 13,000 individuals ≥16 years (response rates: 51-63%). Respondents completed a self-administered questionnaire, which included the analyzed items on identification of chronic pain (≥6 months).

    RESULTS: From 2000 to 2013, the prevalence of CNCP increased and subsequently the annual prevalence of opioid use from 4.1% to 5.7% among CNCP individuals. Higher CNCP prevalence was related to female gender, no cohabitation partner, short education, non-Western origin, and overweight/obesity. In addition, women with CNCP, especially >65 years, became more frequent users of opioids and used higher doses than men. Concurrent use of BZD/BZD-related drugs decreased (13%) from 2010 to 2013, still one-third of long-term opioid user were co-medicated with these drugs.

    CONCLUSIONS: The use of opioids has increased in Denmark, especially among elderly women. The concurrent use of BZD/BZD-related drugs has decreased from 2010 to 2013, but still one-third of long-term opioid users were co-medicated.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)623-33
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - May 2016


    • Adolescent
    • Adult
    • Age Factors
    • Aged
    • Aged, 80 and over
    • Analgesics, Opioid
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Chronic Pain
    • Cohort Studies
    • Cross-Sectional Studies
    • Denmark
    • Drug Prescriptions
    • Drug Therapy, Combination
    • Drug Utilization
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Male
    • Middle Aged
    • Opioid-Related Disorders
    • Population
    • Sex Factors
    • Socioeconomic Factors
    • Surveys and Questionnaires
    • Young Adult
    • Journal Article
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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