SAN ANTONIO – Many patients lack understanding about non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and their associated risks, according to research presented at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) 2016 National Conference.

In order to ensure that patients are using NSAIDs safely and effectively, clinicians should educate patients who indicate use of these medications.

The researchers surveyed 1,056 demographically representative adults from the general US population; 515 of whom reported experiencing pain at least twice a week or pain due to surgery.

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A total of 810 (77%) of respondents reported experiencing pain, including at least one of the following: chronic pain, recurrent pain, general pain, or pain as a result of surgery, injury, or aging. Among those who had experienced pain, 497 reported using over-the-counter (OTC) medications and 277 reported using a prescription pain medication.

When asked if they knew what NSAIDs were, 495 (47%) of survey participants said they did not, including 282 participants who reported taking pain medication in the last 12 months. Many respondents who indicated that they had some knowledge of NSAIDs were unable to identify common NSAIDs and NSAID-containing products: 78% failed to identify Excedrin, 55% failed to identify Advil, 54% failed to identify Aleve, 54% failed to identify naproxen, and 42% failed to identify ibuprofen.

Although 58% (351 out of 608) of prescription NSAID or OTC pain medicine users knew that there are risks associated with NSAIDs, only 27% (166 out of 608) knew that the FDA recommends using the lowest effective NSAID dose for the shortest duration possible. About half (52%) of medication users were unaware of low-dose pain medication options, and 33% of users believed that they needed a high-dose treatment for their pain.

After learning about FDA recommendations, 58% (351 out of 608) reported that they would discuss their pain medication with their clinicians.

“Patients experiencing pain should have conversations with their healthcare providers in order to learn more about the safe use of pain medications,” concluded the researchers.

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  1. McCarberg B, Snodgrass B, Craw J, et al. Gaps in consumer awareness of NSAID risks: results of a nationwide survey. Presented at: the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) 2016 National Conference; June 21-26, 2016; San Antonio, TX.