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For Immediate Release

Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll Finds Continued Concern over Narcotic Painkiller Risk

Growing number of respondents who had not previously been prescribed painkillers voice concern over addiction, effectiveness, side effects and long-term impact

Ann Arbor, MI and Washington, DC, Mar. 03, 2017 — A majority of Americans (57 percent) say they have been prescribed narcotic painkillers, according to the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll. Despite this widespread use, respondents have concerns over addiction risk, effectiveness, side effects and long-term impact, particularly among those who have not previously been prescribed the drugs.

Truven Health Analytics®, part of the IBM Watson Health business, and NPR conduct a nationwide bimonthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues. The recent survey sought insights into respondents’ use of and concerns about prescription narcotic painkillers. Repeating selected questions from surveys conducted in 2011 and 2014, it also measured changes in consumer attitude over the past five years.

When asked about concerns regarding narcotic painkillers, respondents who had been prescribed these drugs showed a slight decline between 2011 and 2016: just over a third of respondents (35.3 percent) said they had concerns, nearly identical to 2014 (36.3 percent) and 2011 (36.1 percent).

However, respondents who were not prescribed these drugs grew more concerned about them over the past five years. Forty-six percent of respondents who had not previously been prescribed narcotic painkillers said they had concerns, up from 29.6 percent in 2014 and 29.8 percent in 2011.

Among all respondents, fear of addiction (32.7 percent) and side effects (30.2 percent) were the most cited reasons for any hesitancy. For patients prescribed the painkillers, fear of side effects was higher (37.5 percent), but fear of addiction was lower (26.7 percent). For respondents who had not been prescribed these narcotics, fear of addiction was higher (39.3 percent) and side effects lower (22.1 percent).

“This data shows that people are becoming more aware of risks associated with narcotic painkillers, ” said Ronald J. Ozminkowski, vice president of cognitive analytics for the value-based care business at IBM Watson Health. “What’s most fascinating, however, is that consumer concerns about side effects, addiction and long-term impact associated with the drugs are most pronounced among those who have never been prescribed narcotic painkillers. That exposes an educational challenge caregivers will need to address when prescribing these drugs.”

To date, the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, vaccines, data privacy, narcotic painkillers and sports-related concussions. NPR archives reports on the surveys online at the Shots health blog here. Truven Health maintains a library of poll results here.

The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Truven Health PULSE® survey, the nation’s largest and longest-running independently funded, nationally representative, multimodal poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare use from 80, 000 U.S. households annually.

The results depicted from the 2016 survey represent responses from 3, 000 survey participants interviewed from Nov. 1 – 15, 2016. Results from the 2014 survey represent responses from 3, 007 survey participants interviewed from May1 – 15, 2014. Results from the 2011 survey represent responses from 3, 009 survey participants interviewed from Oct. 1 – 13, 2011. The margin of error for 2016, 2014 and 2011 is +/- 1.8 percentage points.

About Truven Health Analytics, part of the IBM Watson Health Business

Truven Health Analytics®, part of the IBM Watson Health™ business, provides market-leading performance improvement solutions built on data integrity, advanced analytics and domain expertise. For more than 40 years, our insights and solutions have been providing hospitals and clinicians, employers and health plans, state and federal government agencies, life sciences companies and policymakers, the facts they need to make confident decisions that directly affect the health and well-being of people and organizations in the US and around the world. The company was acquired by IBM in 2016 to help form a new business, Watson Health. Watson Health aspires to improve lives and give hope by delivering innovation to address the world’s most pressing health challenges through data and cognitive insights.

Truven Health Analytics owns some of the most trusted brands in healthcare, such as MarketScan®, 100 Top Hospitals®, Advantage Suite®, Micromedex®, Simpler® and ActionOI®. Truven Health has its principal offices in Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, IL, and Denver, CO.


Brian Erni
For Truven Health Analytics
J. Roderick, Inc. Public Relations