University of Hertfordshire

Opioid painkillers' dependence in a sample of elderly medical inpatients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Stephania Chiappini
  • Fabrizio Schifano
  • Giovanni Martinotti
  • Johanna Strasser
  • Udo Bonnet
  • Norbert Scherbaum
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Early online date16 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Feb 2021


BACKGROUND: Over the past few years there has been a growing concern towards prescription opioid misuse/dependence in the elderly. Thus, our study aimed at investigating the prevalence of previous and current prescribing opioid dependence among elderly medical inpatients recruited from a large German Hospital.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study analysed a cohort of inpatients aged 65 years and older who were assessed with the help of a structured clinical interview (SCID-I). Levels of past/current opioid; benzodiazepines; hypnotics; and non-opioid analgesics’ dependence were assessed.

RESULTS: Out of a total of 2,108 elderly inpatients admitted to the hospital over 6 months, some 400 fulfilled the inclusion criteria and agreed to participate to the survey. Some 43 (10.8%) subjects presented with a dependence on opioid analgesics; in 41 cases this was a current, and for 22 (51.2%) a de novo, condition. Addiction severity was considered mild and severe respectively in 65.1% and 11.6% of cases, with tilidine and oxycodone having been the most typically reported molecules. CONCLUSIONS: Further research is warranted, to better understand possible risk factors of prescription drug misuse/abuse/addiction in this vulnerable population. Clinicians should be updated and informed regarding both prescription medication misuse potential and safe prescribing practices in the elderly.


© 2021 Japanese Psychogeriatric Society. This is the accepted manuscript version of an article which has been published in final form at

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