Clinical Correlates of Opioid Prescription Among Pediatric Patients With Chronic Pain

Published:November 05, 2020DOI:


      Up to 17%–20% of pediatric patients with chronic pain are prescribed opioid pharmacotherapy and face an increased risk of opioid misuse in adulthood. Little is known about the way clinical presentation may influence which children with chronic pain are prescribed opioids. This study examines the associations between child's and caregiver's report of child's pain, physical function, and socioemotional indices with opioid prescriptions in pediatric patients initiating treatment for chronic pain.


      Participants were 1,155 pediatric patients (71.26% female, n=823) aged 8–17 years and 1 of their caregivers (89% mothers) who presented for evaluation at a tertiary care pediatric pain clinic. Data were collected from 2015 to 2019 and analyzed in 2020.


      Binary logistic regression analyses investigated the relative contribution of child's demographic, pain, and Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System measures to opioid prescription status; separate models were conducted for child's and caregiver's report. Across child and caregiver models, findings were that child's age (older), pain duration (longer; child's report only), and increased physical limitations (mobility challenges and pain interference; caregiver's report only) were the most salient clinical correlates of positive opioid status. Contrary to the existing literature on adults with chronic pain, socioemotional indices (anxiety, depression, peer functioning) were nonsignificant.


      A greater understanding of how clinical presentation may relate to prescribed opioid pharmacotherapy informs the field's conceptualization of the sequelae of opioid use and misuse in the context of pediatric chronic pain.
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