Parental Perceptions Regarding Prescription Opioid Use for Pain Control in Children Following Orthopedic Surgery

Shelby Cornelius, Julie Rice-Weimer, Emmanuel Alalade, Joseph D. Tobias


Background: With increasing concerns regarding the morbidity and mortality associated with opioid abuse disorders, there may be parental reluctance regarding the perioperative administration of opioids for postoperative pain management. Lack of effective postoperative analgesia may impact the postoperative course of surgical patients and be associated with adverse physiologic effects including prolonged recovery. The current study seeks to provide insight into parental perceptions of prescription opioid use in children undergoing orthopedic surgery.

Methods: The study was conducted through use of a preoperative survey, which was completed by the parents or guardians of 125 patients during the months of May through August 2023. Study data were collected and managed using REDCap electronic data capture tools.

Results: Although a majority (66.4%) believed that prescription opioids were dangerous, a similar majority (57.4%) responded that opioid use for their childs postoperative pain management was safe. The top two concerns were adverse side effects and their child becoming addicted. Ninety percent believed they were somewhat informed or very informed on opioids; however, 41.1% reported never having a conversation with their physician about opioid use. The two strongest influences that impacted parental perceptions and knowledge regarding opioids were the experiences of close friends or family members and the media.

Conclusions: When opioids are prescribed for postoperative pain, we suggest parental education by physicians to provide instructions regarding appropriate opioid use, the true risk of adverse effects, methods for disposal of unused medication, and to allay their fears of the use of opioids to treat acute pain.

Int J Clin Pediatr. 2023;12(1):3-10


Opioids; Addiction; Adverse effects; Postoperative pain management; Orthopedic surgery

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