The following article is part of conference coverage from the 2018 American College of Rheumatology and Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ACR/ARHP) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. MPR’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in rheumatology. Check back for the latest news from ACR/ARHP 2018 .

CHICAGO — Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus who experienced high pain levels and had a visit to the emergency department the previous year were more likely to use opioids, according to a study presented at the 2018 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, held October 19 to 24, in Chicago, Illinois.

For this retrospective study, data from the population-based Michigan Lupus Epidemiology & Surveillance cohort on 462 patients (89% women; 44% black; 24% Medicaid users; average age, 53.4) with systemic lupus erythematosus and 192 matched controls were analyzed. Data collected included general demographic information, type of insurance used, access to healthcare, characteristics of the patient’s systemic lupus erythematosus, including pain level, and the frequency and duration of opioid use. 

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Opioid use was found to be higher in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus vs healthy controls (31% vs 8%, respectively; P <.001). Half of the patients with systemic lupus erythematosus were prescribed opioids, and the average duration of use was 6±7 years.  Opioid use was found to increase with pain levels in a multivariable logistic regression (odds ratio [OR], 1.50; 95% CI, 1.28-1.75; P<.01) and with an emergency department visit in the previous year (OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.25-4.74; P<.009).

“Further study is warranted to improve pain management and reduce opioid use in participants [with systemic lupus erythematosus], particularly for those who frequent the [emergency department], to improve quality of care,” concluded the study authors.

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Lee J, Padda A, Marder W, et al. Opioid use among SLE patients and controls in the population-based Michigan Lupus Epidemiology & Surveillance (MILES) cohort. Presented at: ACR Annual Meeting; October 19-24, 2018; Chicago, IL. Abstract 2998.

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This article originally appeared on Rheumatology Advisor