Effects of Baseline Opioid Medication Use on Patient-Reported Functional and Psychological Impairment Among Hand Clinic Patients

J Hand Surg Am. 2019 Oct;44(10):829-839. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2019.07.003. Epub 2019 Aug 31.


Purpose: To test the null hypothesis that baseline opioid use is not associated with functional or psychological impairment among new hand surgery clinic patients, as measured by Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) instruments.

Methods: New adult (≥ 18 years) patient visits to a tertiary academic orthopedic nonshoulder hand and upper extremity clinic between February 2014 and April 2018 were eligible. Collected outcomes include the question, "Are you currently taking narcotic pain medications?", the PROMIS Upper Extremity (UE) computerized adaptive testing (CAT), abbreviated version of the Disorders of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (QuickDASH), PROMIS Physical Function (PF) CAT, PROMIS Pain Interference (PI) CAT, PROMIS Depression CAT, and PROMIS Anxiety CAT. Patients responding to the opioid question, plus the UE CAT or QuickDASH, were included. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression modelling were used to assess factors associated with baseline scores.

Results: Of 5997 included patients, 1,046 (17.4%) reported baseline opioid use. Patients in the opioid group demonstrated significantly worse scores on all patient-reported outcomes, and a significantly greater proportion of patients with PROMIS Depression CAT scores exceeding 60 (associated with a clinical diagnosis of depression; 29.5% vs 15.5%). Lower functional scores were observed in the opioid group after controlling for age, sex, other activity-limiting comorbidities, and either depression (UE CAT -7.0; QuickDASH +18.1; and PF CAT -6.6 points), anxiety (UE CAT -6.3; QuickDASH +16.4; PF CAT -6.3), or PI (UE CAT -3.7; QuickDASH +9.5; and PF CAT -4.2 points). Pain interference was greater among opiate users when controlling for age, sex, other activity-limiting comorbidities, and baseline function or psychological status: PI was 2.5, 5.0, or 4.3 points greater when controlling for the PROMIS UE CAT, Depression CAT, or Anxiety CAT.

Conclusions: New patients presenting to a hand surgery clinic who endorse use of opioid medications at baseline report significantly decreased physical function, increased psychological burden, and greater levels of pain interference than nonusers.

Type of study/level of evidence: Diagnostic III.

Keywords: Opioid/opiate; Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS); Quick DASH (qDASH); narcotics; upper extremity.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology*


  • Analgesics, Opioid