• Understanding the causes of problematic pain management in sickle cell disease: evidence that pseudoaddiction plays a more important role than genuine analgesic dependence

      Elander, James; Lusher, Joanne; Bevan, David; Telfer, Paul; Burton, Bernice; University of Derby (2004)
      Treatment of painful episodes in sickle cell disease (SCD) is sometimes complicated by disputes between patients and staff and patient behaviors that raise concerns about analgesic misuse. Those concern-raising behaviors could indicate either drug seeking caused by analgesic dependence or pseudoaddiction caused by undertreatment of pain. To make a systematic assessment of concern-raising behaviors and examine their associations with other factors, including DSM-IV symptoms of substance dependence, individual, in-depth interviews with SCD patients were conducted to apply pre-established criteria for concernraising behaviors. These included disputes with staff, tampering with analgesic delivery systems, passing prescribed analgesics from one person to another, being suspected or accused of analgesic misuse, self-discharging from hospital, obtaining analgesic prescriptions from multiple sources, using illicit drugs, and injecting analgesics. Assessments were also made of pain-related symptoms of substance dependence (where behaviors resemble substance dependence but reflect attempts to manage pain, increasing the risk of pseudoaddiction), non-pain-related symptoms of substance dependence (where substance dependence reflects analgesic use beyond pain management), and pain coping strategies (using the Pain Coping Strategies Questionnaire). Inter-rater reliability for the assessment of concern-raising behaviors was high, with Kappa coefficients of 0.63 to 1.0. The most frequent concern-raising behaviors were disputes with staff about pain or analgesics. The least frequent were tampering with analgesic delivery systems and passing analgesics between patients in hospital. The odds of concern-raising behaviors in hospital were raised eightfold by less use of ignoring pain as a coping strategy, and more than doubled by each additional pain-related symptom of substance dependence. Non-painrelated symptoms of substance dependence had no independent effect on concern-raising behaviors. Concern-raising behaviors were more closely associated with pain behaviors that make patients vulnerable to misperceptions of substance dependence than they were with genuine substance dependence. The results show how pseudoaddiction can adversely influence hospital pain management, and suggest that more emphasis should be placed on patients’ pain and analgesic needs when responding to concern-raising behaviors in hospital.