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Analgesics use and withdrawal in people with dementia - a register-based Danish study and a systematic review

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  • Anne Mette Skov Sørensen
  • Simon Tarp
  • Peter Johannsen
  • Annette Lolk
  • Elisabeth Bandak
  • Hanne Pedersen
  • Niels Saxtrup
  • Hanne Kallehauge
  • Espen Jimenez Solem
  • Mikkel Bring Christensen
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INTRODUCTION: Pain assessment in people with dementia is difficult, and withdrawal of analgesics may allow for assessment of treatment efficacy whilst decreasing pill burden, adverse events and interactions. We aimed to describe the use of analgesics among elderly in Denmark and to compile the evidence for withdrawal of analgesics among people with dementia.

METHODS: With respect to analgesics use, we employed data from national registries on the analgesic prescription use (opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen) in 2017 among elderly people with and without dementia. Trial evidence was produced by performing a systematic search in MEDLINE, Embase and Cinahl for trials evaluating withdrawal of analgesics in people with dementia.

RESULTS: Opioids were prescribed more frequently (p = 0.026) and NSAIDs less frequently (p = 0.026) to people with dementia. With respect to trial evidence, we identified two studies: An observational cross-over study (n = 3) reporting acetaminophen withdrawal leading to increases in pain frequency and duration, and a cluster-randomised clinical trial (n = 352) reporting changes in mobilization-observation-behaviour-intensity-dementia-2 (MOBID-2) pain score during a four-week withdrawal period (acetaminophen, opioids and/or pregabaline) from a mean ± standard deviation of 2.3 ± 2.1 to 2.9 ± 2.6 compared with 3.5 ± 2.6 to 3.5 ± 2.5 in the control group.

CONCLUSIONS: In Denmark, use of opioids is higher in elderly with dementia compared to elderly without dementia. The evidence suggests that withdrawal of analgesics may aggravate pain but increases in pain scores may be of little clinical relevance in most people. Clinical trials investigating analgesics withdrawal are warranted.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftDanish Medical Journal
Vol/bind66
Udgave nummer12
Sider (fra-til)A5578
ISSN1603-9629
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2019

Bibliografisk note

Articles published in the DMJ are “open access”. This means that the articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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