Truven Data Indicates Americans’ Concerns About Painkillers

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Truven Health Analytics, a part of the IBM Watson Health business based in Ann Arbor, recently conducted a nationwide biannual health poll with National Public Radio that indicates 57 percent of Americans have been prescribed narcotic painkillers, but have concerns over addiction risk, effectiveness, side effects, and long term impact, particularly for first-time users.

Truven uses data analytics to provide industry performance-improving solutions, and this health poll specifically intended to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues. Repeating selected questions from polls conducted in 2011 and 2014 also allowed both groups to measure changes in consumer attitude over the past four years.

When asked about concerns regarding painkillers, respondents who had been prescribed these drugs shows a slight decline between 2011 and 2016, and 35.3 percent of participants said they “had concerns,” nearly identical to 2014’s results of 36.3 percent and 2011’s 36.1 percent, according to a press release. However, respondents who weren’t prescribed narcotic painkillers demonstrated increased concern over the past five years, with 46 percent, an increase from 29.6 percent in 2014 and 29.8 percent in 2011.

“This data shows that people are becoming more aware of risks associated with narcotic painkillers,” says Ronald J. Ozminkowski, vice president of cognitive analytics for the value-based care business at IBM Watson Health. “What’s most fascinating, however, is that consumer concerns about side effects, addiction and long-term impact associated with the drugs are most pronounced among those who have never been prescribed narcotic painkillers. That exposes an educational challenge caregivers will need to address when prescribing these drugs.”

Additionally, 32.7 percent of respondents indicated a fear of addiction, and 30.2 percent also reported side effects as reasons they hesitate to take prescription painkillers.

The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, vaccines, data privacy, narcotic painkillers, and sports-related concussions. NPR archives reports on the surveys online at the Shots health blog, which can be viewed here. Truven also maintains its own library of polls, which can be found here.

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