Opioid use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 2005–2014: a population-based comparative study

Jorge A. Zamora-Legoff, Sara J. Achenbach, Cynthia S. Crowson, Megan L. Krause, John M. Davis, Eric L. Matteson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Opioid prescriptions have seen an increase across the USA, Canada, Europe, and the UK. In the USA, they have quadrupled from 1999 to 2010. Opioid use among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over time is not well described. This study examined trends of opioid use in patients with RA. Retrospective prescription data was examined from 2005 to 2014 in a population-based incidence cohort of patients with RA by 1987 ACR criteria and comparable non-RA subjects. Differences in opioid use were examined with Poisson models. A total of 501 patients with RA (71 % female) and 532 non-RA subjects (70 % female) were included in the study. Total and chronic opioid use in 2014 was substantial in both cohorts 40 % RA vs 24 % non-RA and 12 % RA vs. 4 % non-RA, respectively. Opioid use increased by 19 % per year in both cohorts during the study period (95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.15, 1.25). Relative risk (RR) of chronic opiate use for RA patients compared to non-RA subjects was highest in adults aged 50–64 years (RR 2.82; 95 % CI 1.43–6.23). RA disease characteristics, biologic use at index, treated depression/fibromyalgia, education, and smoking status were not significantly associated with chronic opiate use. Over a third of patients with RA use opioids in some form, and in more than a tenth use is chronic. Use has increased in recent years. Patients aged 50–64 with RA use substantially more opioids than their non-RA counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1137-1144
Number of pages8
JournalClinical rheumatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Chronic pain management
  • Opioid trends
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


Dive into the research topics of 'Opioid use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 2005–2014: a population-based comparative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this