Prevalence of chronic narcotic use among children with inflammatory bowel disease

Jessie P. Buckley, Suzanne F. Cook, Jeffery K. Allen, Michael D. Kappelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aims: Narcotic analgesics are not recommended for long-term management of pain for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), particularly pediatric patients. We compared chronic use of narcotics among children with IBD and the general population and investigated factors associated with narcotic use in the pediatric IBD population. Methods: This cross-sectional study included children (younger than 18 years old) with continuous enrollment in a large administrative claims database from 2010 through 2011 (n= 4,911,286). Children with IBD were identified through diagnosis codes and dispensation of IBD medication (n= 4344); they were matched for age, sex, and region with 5 children without IBD (n=21,720). Chronic narcotic use was defined as ≥3 dispensements of narcotics. We estimated prevalence odds ratios (PORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), comparing narcotic use on the basis of IBD status and evaluating variables associated with narcotic use by patients with IBD by using conditional and unconditional logistic regression. Results: The prevalence of chronic narcotic use was 5.6% among children with IBD vs 2.3% in the general population (POR, 2.6; 95% CI, 2.2-3.0). Compared with the general population, POR for chronic narcotic use was significantly higher for pediatric IBD patients with psychological impairment (POR, 6.8; 95% CI, 4.3-10.6) than those without (POR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.9-2.7). Older age, increased healthcare utilization, fracture, and psychological impairment were strongly associated with chronic use of narcotics among children with IBD. Conclusions: Chronic narcotic use is common in pediatric IBD patients, particularly among those with anxiety and depression. Increased awareness of psychological comorbidity, screening, and treatment may reduce symptoms that lead to narcotic use and its complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-315.e2
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • CD
  • Crohn's disease
  • UC
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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