University of Tasmania
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The Persistence of opioid use following surgical admission: an Australian single-site retrospective cohort study

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 13:26 authored by Felicity VealFelicity Veal, Angus ThompsonAngus Thompson, Halliday, S, Boyles, P, Orlikowski, C, Luke BereznickiLuke Bereznicki

Background: Acute pain is common following surgery, with opioids frequently employed in its management. Studies indicate that commencing an opioid during a hospital admission increases the likelihood of long-term use. This study aimed to identify the prevalence of opioid persistence amongst opioid-naïve patients following surgery as well as the indication for use.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients who underwent a surgical procedure at the Royal Hobart Hospital, Tasmania, Australia, between August and September 2016 was undertaken. Patients were linked to the Tasmanian real-time prescription monitoring database to ascertain if they were subsequently dispensed a Schedule 8 opioid (morphine, codeine oxycodone, buprenorphine, hydromorphone, fentanyl, methadone, or tapentadol) and the indication for use.

Results: Of the 3275 hospital admissions, 1015 opioid-naïve patients were eligible for inclusion. Schedule 8 opioids were dispensed at or within 2 days of discharge in 41.7% of admissions. Thirty-nine (3.9%) patients received prescribed opioids 2-months post-discharge; 1.8% of the patients were approved by State Health to be prescribed Schedule 8 opioids regularly for a chronic condition at 6 months, and 1.3% received infrequent or one-off prescriptions for Schedule 8 opioids at 6 months. Thirteen (1.3%) patients continued Schedule 8 opioids for at least 6 months following their surgery, with the indication for treatment either related to the surgery or the condition which surgery was sought for.

Conclusion: This study found that there was a low rate of Schedule 8 opioid persistence following surgery, indicating post-surgical pain is not a significant driver for persistent opioid use.


Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation


Publication title

Journal of Pain Research








School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology


Dove Medical Press Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2020 Veal et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified; Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

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