Opioid and non-opioid utilization at home following gastrointestinal procedures: a prospective cohort study

Karsten Bartels, Katharine Mahoney, Kristen M. Raymond, Shannon K. McWilliams, Ana Fernandez-Bustamante, Richard Schulick, Christian J. Hopfer, Susan K. Mikulich-Gilbertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Overprescribing of opioid medications for patients to be used at home after surgery is common. We sought to ascertain important patient and procedural characteristics that are associated with low versus high rates of self-reported utilization of opioids at home, 1–4 weeks after discharge following gastrointestinal surgery. Methods: We developed a survey consisting of questions from NIH PROMIS tools for pain intensity/interference and queries on postoperative analgesic use. Adult patients completed the survey weekly during the first month after discharge. Using regression procedures we determined the patient and procedure characteristics that predicted high post-discharge opioid use operationalized as 75 mg oral morphine equivalents/50 mg oxycodone reported taken. Results: The survey response rate was 86% (201/233). High opioid use was reported by 52.7% of patients (106/201). Median reported intake of opioid pain pills was 7 for week #1 and 0 for weeks #2–4. Combinations of acetaminophen and non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs were used by 8.9%–12.5% of patients after discharge. Following adjustment for significant variables of the univariate analysis, last 24-h in-hospital opioid intake remained as a significant co-variate for post-discharge opioid intake. Conclusions: After gastrointestinal surgery, the equivalent of each oxycodone 5 mg tablet taken in the last 24 h before discharge increases the likelihood of taking the equivalent of > 10 oxycodone 5 mg tablets by 5%. Non-opioid analgesia was utilized in less than half of the cases. Maximizing non-opioid analgesic therapy and basing opioid prescriptions on 24-h pre-discharge opioid intake may improve the quality of post-discharge pain management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-311
Number of pages8
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesics, opioid
  • Digestive system surgical procedures
  • Pain
  • Patient discharge
  • Self-report

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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