Patient understanding regarding opioid use in an orthopaedic trauma surgery population: a survey study

Amy L. Xu, Alexandra M. Dunham, Zachary O. Enumah, Casey J. Humbyrd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Prior studies have assessed provider knowledge and factors associated with opioid misuse; similar studies evaluating patient knowledge are lacking. The purpose of this study was to assess the degree of understanding regarding opioid use in orthopaedic trauma patients. We also sought to determine the demographic factors and clinical and personal experiences associated with level of understanding. Methods: One hundred and sixty-six adult orthopaedic trauma surgery patients across two clinical sites of an academic institution participated in an internet-based survey (2352 invited, 7.1% response rate). Demographic, clinical, and personal experience variables, as well as perceptions surrounding opioid use were collected. Relationships between patient characteristics and opioid perceptions were identified using univariate and multivariable logistic regressions. Alpha = 0.05. Results: Excellent recognition (> 85% correct) of common opioids, side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and disposal methods was demonstrated by 29%, 10%, 30%, and 2.4% of patients; poor recognition (< 55%) by 11%, 56%, 33%, and 52% of patients, respectively. Compared with white patients, non-white patients had 7.8 times greater odds (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9–31) of perceiving addiction discrepancy (p = 0.004). Employed patients with higher education levels were less likely to have excellent understanding of side effects (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.06, 95% CI 0.006–0.56; p = 0.01) and to understand that dependence can occur within 2 weeks (aOR 0.28, 95% CI 0.09–0.86; p = 0.03) than unemployed patients. Patients in the second least disadvantaged ADI quartile were more knowledgeable about side effects (aOR 8.8, 95% CI 1.7–46) and withdrawal symptoms (aOR 2.7, 95% CI 1.0–7.2; p = 0.046) than those in the least disadvantaged quartile. Patients who knew someone who was dependent or overdosed on opioids were less likely to perceive addiction discrepancy (aOR 0.24, 95% CI 0.07–0.76; p = 0.02) as well as more likely to have excellent knowledge of withdrawal symptoms (aOR 2.6, 95% CI 1.1–6.5, p = 0.03) and to understand that dependence can develop within 2 weeks (aOR 3.8, 95% CI 1.5–9.8, p = 0.005). Conclusions: Level of understanding regarding opioid use is low among orthopaedic trauma surgery patients. Clinical and personal experiences with opioids, in addition to demographics, should be emphasized in the clinical history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number736
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • Dependence
  • Naloxone
  • Opioid misuse
  • Patient knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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