Do primary care providers who prescribe more opioids have higher patient panel satisfaction scores?

Frederick North, Sarah J. Crane, Jon O. Ebbert, Sidna M. Tulledge-Scheitel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Opioid prescribing in the United States has tripled since 1999. At the same time, there has been increasing attention to patient satisfaction. It has been suggested that providers concerned about patient satisfaction may be more likely to treat pain with opioids. We examined primary care providers’ opioid prescribing practices to determine if higher provider opioid prescribing was associated with higher patient satisfaction. Methods: For 77 primary care providers, we compared each provider’s opioid prescription count and amount prescribed to each provider’s patient panel satisfaction measures. Satisfaction measures were obtained from surveys following office visits and consisted of Likert-type scale answers concerning satisfaction for pain management and other provider satisfaction domains. Satisfaction surveys were generated independent of patient complaint of pain and had the aim of overall assessment of patient satisfaction with the provider and the healthcare system. We assessed the correlation between opioid prescribing and patient panel pain management satisfaction using linear regression models with and without adjustment for patient complexity. Results: We observed no statistically significant correlation between patient panel satisfaction with their provider and the quantity of opioids that the provider prescribed (R2 = 0.006; p = 0.52). There was also no correlation between patient panel satisfaction and the number of opioid prescriptions written by their provider (R2 = 0.005; p = 0.54). Additional multivariate analysis after adjusting for patient complexity also demonstrated no correlation of pain management satisfaction with opioids prescribed. Although the quantity of opioid prescriptions was not correlated with pain management satisfaction, several other patient satisfaction measures correlated significantly with pain management satisfaction. Conclusion: Primary care providers with a greater rate of opioid prescribing did not have higher patient panel satisfaction scores for pain management. In primary care, providers who want to improve patient satisfaction should focus on other components of patient care besides opioid-based pain management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSAGE Open Medicine
StatePublished - Jun 14 2018


  • Opioid
  • hierarchical condition category
  • pain management
  • patient satisfaction
  • prescribing practice
  • prescriptions
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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