Evid Based Nurs doi:10.1136/ebn1173
  • Therapeutics
  • Systematic review and meta-analysis

In older adults with chronic non-cancer pain, short-term use of opioids reduces pain and physical disability but does not benefit mental health, and 25% discontinue due to adverse effects

  1. Carol Haigh
  1. Department of Nursing, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Carol Haigh
    Department of Nursing, Manchester Metropolitan University, Elizabeth Gaskell Building, Hathersage Road, Manchester M13 0JA, UK; c.haigh{at}

Commentary on:

Implications for nursing practice

  • Nurses are often hesitant to recommend opiate use for non-cancer pain.

  • People aged 65 and above are as likely to benefit from opioids as younger people.

  • In older people with no significant comorbidity, short-term use of opioids reduces pain and improves physical functioning.

  • 25% of patients stop using opioids because of adverse events, including constipation.

Implications for nursing research

  • Long-term safety, efficacy and abuse potential in older persons are yet to be determined.

  • Older age is associated with a lower likelihood of abuse and misuse of opioids.


There have been a number of previously published systematic reviews on short-term outcomes associated with opioid treatment …

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