Opioid Use Among African American Patients with Myeloma

A study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and other institutions aimed to evaluate the pain experiences among African American patients with multiple myeloma (MM) being treated frequently with opioids.

Health disparities based on race is a prevalent concern for patients with MM. Existing data show that African Americans have higher incidence of MM, however, according to the researchers, there is a lack of data focused on pain characterization among this patient population.

“Acute and/or chronic pain is a hallmark symptom for patients with MM that can impede mobility and affect quality of life,” wrote the study authors. “Similar to other cancers for which survival has improved, patients with MM are now living longer but often live life with chronic pain, potentially necessitating the use of around-the-clock (ATC) opioids.”

For this study, the research team utilized baseline patient data from a longitudinal study on opioid adherence. The primary endpoint was determining the pain experience, beliefs about pain and pain control, and additional symptoms among African American patients with MM who were receiving ATC opioids.

In total, thirty-four patients reported experiencing daily pain and other symptoms. Half of these patients also experienced depression. Patients also self-reported barriers to pain management, including a dislike of pills and fear of addiction. Side effects from the medication were also listed as burden to patients.

Based on these findings, the researchers suggest future larger studies to assess factors that may be contributing to the high symptom burden these patients face.

This study was published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.