Opioid misuse behaviors in adolescents and young adults in a hematology/oncology setting

J Pediatr Psychol. Nov-Dec 2014;39(10):1149-60. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsu072. Epub 2014 Sep 14.


Objective: To describe the occurrence and psychosocial correlates of aberrant opioid-associated behavior (AOB) in adolescent and young adult (AYA) hematology and oncology patients prescribed opioid therapy.

Methods: Structured retrospective chart reviews were conducted for AYA patients (N = 398) accepted for active treatment at a large pediatric hematology/oncology institution over a 17-month period. Opioid therapy was documented in the records of 94 out of the 398 patients. The records of those 94 patients were further reviewed to identify documented AOB and documented correlates of AOB.

Results: Of the 94 patients prescribed opioid therapy, 11.7% exhibited AOB. At least one psychosocial risk factor was identified in 90.9% of patients with AOB. Concurrent use of multiple opioids was significantly associated with AOB (p = .003).

Conclusions: Hematology/oncology AYA patients may exhibit AOB despite a legitimate clinical indication for opioid therapy. Clinicians should consider young patients' psychosocial risk factors when using opioid therapy.

Keywords: adherence; cancer and oncology; drug abuse and exposure; hematology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / psychology*
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Hematology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid