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DDW: Physicians Often Treat IBS With Narcotics

This is true despite potential for harm; reasons may include greater pain, more hospitalizations

MONDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Practicing physicians often treat patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with narcotics despite the potential for harmful long-term effects, and use of narcotics in these patients is associated with several factors, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week 2010, held from May 1 to 5 in New Orleans.

Spencer D. Dorn, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues surveyed 1,787 adult patients with IBS who met Rome III criteria. They used an Internet-based questionnaire to assess demographic characteristics, clinical disease features, quality of life, psychological factors, health care use, overall satisfaction with disease management, and medications currently used.

The researchers found that 18.2 percent of patients were undergoing treatment with narcotics. Patients more likely to use narcotics tended to experience more abdominal pain and IBS-related limitations, as well as lower self-rated health and a higher number of previous hospitalizations and surgeries. Current use of psychotropic or anti-acid medication was also associated with greater likelihood of narcotic use in this study population.

"In the current U.S. health care system, clinicians often lack the time, infrastructure, and incentives needed to provide integrative care to patients with chronic conditions, including IBS," Dorn said in a statement. "Instead, very often physicians take the path of least resistance. Narcotic prescriptions are a quick and easy way to get patients out of their office, even though the long term effects can be harmful."

One author disclosed receiving consulting fees as well as serving on advisory committees or review panels for various pharmaceutical companies.

Abstract No. W1378
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