Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Pharmacy

Department

Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Jeffery Talbert

Abstract

Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic pain condition with significant societal and personal burdens of illness. Chronic opioid therapy in the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain has increased drastically over the past decade. This is a worrisome trend in general, but specifically, given the pathophysiologic characteristics seen in fibromyalgia syndrome patients, the use of this class of medication deserves special scrutiny. Although the theoretical case against this therapy choice is strong, little empirical evidence exists. In order to supplement this literature, retrospective analysis methods are utilized to examine the association of state-, provider-, and patient level characteristics with the prevalence of chronic opioid use in this disease state. Data gathered through this analysis is then used to develop a propensity index for the identification of an appropriate control group for fibromyalgia patients, a task that has proven difficult in the literature to date. Using propensity stratification and matching techniques analysis of the impact of fibromyalgia, chronic opioid use, and the interaction of these two variables are undertaken.

Several key findings and updates to the understanding of chronic opioid use and fibromyalgia syndrome are reported. Wide geographic variation in chronic opioid utilization between states is seen. The role of diagnosing provider type in the rate of chronic opioid prescribing is significant and can be aggregated at various levels. Demographic characteristics, comorbid conditions, and concurrent medication use are all important associates of chronic opioid use in fibromyalgia syndrome. Additionally, chronic opioid use in fibromyalgia patients, independent of propensity to receive that therapy choice is a significant correlate with healthcare costs. A diagnosis of fibromyalgia is a statistically significant source of healthcare costs, though the clinical significance of its impact when compared to a closely matched control group is minimized. Despite the minimization of the role of this diagnosis the impact of the interaction of chronic opioid use with fibromyalgia, despite control for myriad regressors, is significant both statistically and clinically.

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