Pain Management Abuse Risk

We recently asked people about their use of pain medication. About 500 responded to questions on their use of pain medication and their feelings towards pharmaceutical companies since finding out about risks to heart health that accompany these medications. Although 56 percent of people were unaware of the side effects, 37 percent indicated that they would most likely not seek out further information regarding the potential risks.

Knowing about the pain medications’ side effects deterred 19 percent of respondents from using such drugs. Thirty-seven percent admitted to being hesitant to use any medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter. These findings indicate that negative information about a specific type of medication does not automatically change usage practices, but instead tends to trigger a blanket caution.

Knowledge of the possible side effects of pain medication failed to deter usage among most respondents. Most people’s opinions of pharmaceutical companies remained unchanged: only 30 percent admitted that their opinions of pharmaceutical companies have changed due to recent announcements about side effects. Sixty-six percent of people thought that companies should add warnings rather than pull the drugs off the shelves entirely.

Sixty five percent of respondents realize that pain medication precludes the exploration of other ways to combat pain. Nevertheless, most people appear willing to overlook the potential health risks involved with pain medication. The quick and easy relief provided by these medications seems to trump the threat of side effects enough for people to continue using them and not actively seeking out alternatives.

This survey indicates that the use of pain medication has not changed significantly. Despite the risks to heart health, the potential side effects appear to not be great enough for people to stop using the medication, significantly alter their perceptions of pharmaceutical companies, nor explore alternatives that might yield less risks.

Pain Management Survey
Question/Answer Responses Percentage
Were you aware of the recent studies into the effects of pain relief medications on heart health before taking this survey? 440
Yes 194 44.09%
No 223 50.68%
Not Sure 23 5.23%
After hearing about the potential risks of pain relief medication, did you, or will you now, search for further information? 414
Yes 264 63.77%
No 88 21.26%
Not Sure 62 14.98%
Where did you search, or where do you plan to search for more information? 249
Online 172 69.08%
Newspaper 7 2.81%
Television News 7 2.81%
My Doctor 57 22.89%
Friends or Family 6 2.41%
Have you stopped taking pain relief medications (prescription or over-the-counter) since you heard there may be heart health risks? 393
Yes 76 19.34%
No 216 54.96%
Undecided 39 9.92%
Not Applicable 63 16.03%
What will you do now for pain relief? 73
Not take any pain medication 5 6.85%
Find an alternative pain relief medication 39 53.42%
Find an alternative form of pain relief (massage, meditation, acupuncture, etc.) 18 24.66%
Undecided 11 15.07%
Have the recent announcements changed your opinion of pharmaceutical companies? 380
Yes 115 30.26%
No 186 48.95%
Undecided 79 20.79%
Pharmaceutical companies should add warning labels and continue to sell drugs with potential side effects, rather than withdraw them from the market. 353
Strongly Agree 84 23.80%
Agree 103 29.18%
Moderately Agree 49 13.88%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 22 6.23%
Moderately Disagree 24 6.80%
Disagree 38 10.76%
Strongly Disagree 33 9.35%
Pain medication keeps people from looking into alternative ways to manage pain. 346
Strongly Agree 65 18.79%
Agree 91 26.30%
Moderately Agree 69 19.94%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 38 10.98%
Moderately Disagree 24 6.94%
Disagree 38 10.98%
Strongly Disagree 21 6.07%
After hearing about the potentially harmful effects of pain relief medication, I am hesitant to take any medications (prescription or over-the-counter). 342
Strongly Agree 34 9.94%
Agree 34 9.94%
Moderately Agree 60 17.54%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 55 16.08%
Moderately Disagree 33 9.65%
Disagree 71 20.76%
Strongly Disagree 55 16.08%