LEBANON, NH ­­ Patients with common musculoskeletal conditions who use opioids may be more satisfied but have poorer health when compared to patients who do not use opioids.

That is one of the conclusions of a new study by researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the University of Michigan. The team’s primary interest was to determine if patient’s perception of their care was associated with the number of opioid prescriptions they received from their health care providers.

“Patient satisfaction is an important driver of health care reimbursement mechanisms,” said Dr. Brian Sites, Dartmouth-Hitchcock anesthesiologist and the lead author of the study, which was published in the January/February 2018 Annals of Family Medicine.  “We found, using population-based data, that patients suffering from chronic musculoskeletal disorders (such as arthritis) rate their satisfaction with care higher when they receive more opioid prescriptions.  This higher satisfaction exists despite the fact that these patients have poorer physical and mental health compared to their counterparts who do NOT take opioids.”