Experiences of adults with opioid-treated chronic low back pain during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional survey study

Aleksandra E. Zgierska, Cindy A. Burzinski, Eric L. Garland, Bruce Barrett, Robert P. Lennon, Roger L. Brown, Anthony R. Schiefelbein, Yoshio Nakamura, Barbara Stahlman, Robert N. Jamison, Robert R. Edwards

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This study aimed to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adults with opioid-treated chronic low back pain (CLBP), an understudied area. Participants in a "parent"clinical trial of non-pharmacologic treatments for CLBP were invited to complete a one-time survey on the perceived pandemic impact across several CLBP- and opioid therapy-related domains. Participant clinical and other characteristics were derived from the parent study's data. Descriptive statistics and latent class analysis analyzed quantitative data; qualitative thematic analysis was applied to qualitative data. The survey was completed by 480 respondents from June 2020 to August 2021. The majority reported a negative pandemic impact on their life (84.8%), with worsened enjoyment of life (74.6%), mental health (74.4%), pain (53.8%), pain-coping skills (49.7%), and finances (45.3%). One-fifth (19.4%) of respondents noted increased use of prescribed opioids; at the same time, decreased access to medication and overall healthcare was reported by 11.3% and 61.6% of respondents, respectively. Latent class analysis of the COVID-19 survey responses revealed 2 patterns of pandemic-related impact; those with worse pandemic-associated harms (n = 106) had an overall worse health profile compared to those with a lesser pandemic impact. The pandemic substantially affected all domains of relevant health-related outcomes as well as healthcare access, general wellbeing, and financial stability among adults with opioid-treated CLBP. A more nuanced evaluation revealed a heterogeneity of experiences, underscoring the need for both increased overall support for this population and for an individualized approach to mitigate harms induced by pandemic or similar crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E34885
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 13 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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