Predictive factors of daily opioid use and quality of life in adults with sickle cell disease

Hematology. 2018 Dec;23(10):856-863. doi: 10.1080/10245332.2018.1479997. Epub 2018 May 31.


Objectives: In adults with sickle cell disease (SCD), pain often necessitates opioid use. Few studies have examined the relationship between opioid use and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in adults with SCD. We tested the hypothesis that higher doses of opioids are associated with worse HRQOL.

Methods: A cross-sectional cohort study was performed in adults with SCD who completed standardized and validated HRQOL questionnaires: Patient Health Questionnaire-15 (PHQ-15), Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Medical Outcome Study 36 Item Short Form (SF-36), and Generalized Anxiety Disorder questionnaire (GAD-7). Daily outpatient opioid dose was converted into morphine milligram equivalents (MME) and categorized as < 90 mg/day or ≥ 90 mg/day. Subject's questionnaire scores were compared by opioid dose.

Results: Ninety-nine adults completed questionnaires. The majority had HbSS and median age was 30 years. The median MME was 80 mg/day. When the association between HRQOL and opioid dose was compared, those prescribed ≥ 90 MME had significantly lower SF-36 subscale scores in 7 of 8 domains, and significantly higher severity scores in the PHQ-15, GAD-7, and the PHQ-9 in comparison those prescribed < 90 MME. Using a multivariable regression tree analysis, in addition to the presence of chronic pain, mental health, physical health, and somatic burden were key predictors of ≥ 90 MME opioid use.

Conclusion: Higher daily opioid dose is associated with chronic pain. Among those with chronic pain, opioid dose ≥ 90 MME is associated with worse HRQOL.

Keywords: Sickle cell disease; chronic pain; clinical practice; opioid use; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / drug therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders* / etiology
  • Chronic Pain* / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain* / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morphine / administration & dosage*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*


  • Morphine