Morphinofobia: the situation among the general population and health care professionals in North-Eastern Portugal

BMC Palliat Care. 2010 Jun 22;9:15. doi: 10.1186/1472-684X-9-15.


Background: Morphinofobia among the general population (GP) and among health care professionals (HP) is not without danger for the patients: it may lead to the inappropriate management of debilitating pain. The aim of our study was to explore among GP and HP the representation and attitudes concerning the use of morphine in health care.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was done among 412 HP (physicians and nurses) of the 4 hospitals and 10 community health centers of Beira Interior (Portugal)and among 193 persons of the GP randomly selected in public places. Opinions were collected through a translated self-administered questionnaire.

Results: A significant difference of opinion exists among GP and HP about the use of morphine. The word morphine first suggests drug to GP (36,2%) and analgesia to HP (32,9%.). The reasons for not using morphine most frequently cited are: for GP morphine use means advanced disease (56%), risk of addiction (50%), legal requirements (49,7%); for HP it means legal risks (56,3%) and adverse side effects of morphine such as somnolence - sedation (30,5%) The socio-demographic situation was correlated with the opinions about the use of morphine.

Conclusions: False beliefs about the use of morphine exist among the studied groups. There seems to be a need for developing information campaigns on pain management and the use of morphine targeting. Better training and more information of HP might also be needed.