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Doctors’ Attitudes About Opioids Closely Linked With Rates of Prescribing: Study

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Doctors’ attitudes about opioids are closely related to how often they prescribe the painkillers, a new study suggests.

The survey of 1,535 doctors included a questionnaire to explore their attitudes about prescribing opioids, Science Daily reports. More than 70 percent of doctors said they prescribe opioids for fewer than 30 percent of their patients with chronic non-cancer pain.

Doctors who see more pain patients were more likely to prescribe the painkillers, believe in the benefits of tamper-resistant formulas designed to reduce drug abuse, and feel adequately trained to treat chronic pain.

The results are consistent with earlier research suggesting doctors’ uneasiness with prescribing opioids for long periods is associated with inexperience in prescribing the drugs, the researchers write in The Journal of Pain.

The survey found no regional differences in doctors’ attitudes about prescribing opioids. Orthopedists were most likely to have negative views of the painkillers, to have the lowest level of confidence in the drugs’ effectiveness, and to have the most concern about opioid addiction, tolerance and dependence.

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