Gender difference in long-term use of opioids among Taiwan officially registered patients with chronic noncancer pain

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Research regarding sex or gender difference in chronic pain proliferated in this decade. This study was to analyze gender difference in Taiwan patients receiving long-term opioids for chronic noncancer pain.

An observational cross-sectional survey was conducted among the registered outpatients by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration. Participants completed a self-report questionnaire, including the Taiwanese version of Brief Pain Inventory and enquiry regarding sexual activities, depressive symptoms, and misuse behaviors.

In total, 68 female and 142 male patients were analyzed. Both pain intensity and daily function interference reduced comparably (around 50%) between women and men after taking opioids in the past 1 week. The opioid-related adverse effects, including constipation, decreased sexual desire and satisfaction, and misuse behaviors were not significantly different. Women were exceedingly diagnosed with depression (67.7% vs 49.3%, P = .012) and had a higher mean depressive symptom score in the past 1 month, especially among those age <40 years (23.3 vs 11.9, P = .009), as compared with men. In addition, women had a lower mean self-rated health score (37.9 vs 44.3, P = .047). The mean morphine equivalent dose was significantly lower in women (131.6 vs 198.2 mg/day, P = .008), which was not correlated with their depressive scores.

Gender differences in the effectiveness and adverse effects of long-term opioids were not found among Taiwan registered outpatients with chronic noncancer pain. However, more female patients inclined to have a coexisting depression diagnosis, depressive symptoms, and a lower perceived health score, needing regular screening and closer monitoring.

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