Prevalence and Factors Associated with Analgesic Prescribing in Poly-Medicated Elderly Patients

Aymen Ali Al-Qurain, Lemlem G. Gebremichael, Muhammad Suleman Khan, Desmond B. Williams, Lorraine Mackenzie, Craig Phillips, Patrick Russell, Michael S. Roberts, Michael D. Wiese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Pain is common in older patients and management guidelines rarely consider the effect of multiple comorbidities and concurrent medications on analgesic selection. Objectives: The objectives of this study were to identify the prevalence and pattern of analgesic prescribing and associated factors in older patients with polypharmacy. Methods: Older patients (aged ≥ 75 years) admitted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital between September 2015 and August 2016 and with polypharmacy were included and their comorbidities and medications prescribed at discharge were recorded. Drug Burden Index and Charlson Comorbidity Index were calculated. The number of medications that increased the risk of orthostatic hypotension were recorded. Logistic regression was used to compute the association between analgesic use and participant characteristics, and results were presented as odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals, adjusted for age, sex, Charlson Comorbidity Index, Drug Burden Index and orthostatic hypotension. Results: Over 15,000 admissions were identified, of which 1192 patients were included, 824 (69%) of whom were prescribed an analgesic medication. Paracetamol (used by 89% of analgesic users), opioids (34%) and adjuvants (17%) were used more frequently than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (8%). Analgesic users had a higher Drug Burden Index, were prescribed more medications and were less likely to be male compared with non-users. Charlson Comorbidity Index across the cohort was high (7.3 ± 1.9) but there was no difference between analgesic users and non-users, but analgesic users were more likely to have a documented diagnosis of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and falls. Opioid use was associated with the Drug Burden Index, while adjuvant use was associated with orthostatic hypotension. Opioid use was associated with having a diagnosis of osteoporosis and falls. Conclusions: In our cohort of poly-medicated elderly patients, prescription of analgesic medications was common, and these patients are likely to have an increased rate of adverse drug reactions and falls compared with those who were not prescribed analgesic medications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesic prescribing
  • risk of falls
  • risk of falls and fractures
  • prescription of opioids
  • Poly-Medicated Elderly Patients
  • Drug Burden Index
  • Charlson Comorbidity Index


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