TUESDAY, Oct. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Patients undergoing surgery assume opioids will be most effective for postoperative pain relief, even if they do not expect to be prescribed opioids, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, held from Oct. 13 to 17 in San Francisco.

Nirmal B. Shah, D.O., from the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, and colleagues surveyed patients aged older than 18 years who were scheduled for surgery. The authors surveyed 502 patients in the preoperative area; five questions were used for analysis.

The researchers found that 100 percent of patients believed they would receive analgesics after surgery: 37, 18, and 77 percent believed they would receive acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and opioids, respectively. Patients who expected to receive postoperative opioids believed that opioids would be effective for controlling their pain (94 percent); the difference in expectations was not seen for patients expecting to be prescribed non-opioids. Patients not expecting to receive opioids still believed opioids would be superior to non-opioids (67.5 percent).

“Patients often assume they will receive opioids for pain, believing they are superior, and therefore may pressure physicians to prescribe them after surgery,” Shah said in a statement. “But research shows opioids often aren’t necessarily more effective. Clearly, we need to provide more education to bridge that gap and help patients understand that there are many options for pain relief after surgery.”

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