Are prescription pills and work a dangerous mix?


Flinders University researchers are exploring the potential problems associated with prescribed opioid use in the South Australian workforce.

基于弗林德斯的主任安·罗氏教授National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, has been awarded aSafeWork SA格兰特(Grant)调查规定的S8阿片类药物,工作场所伤害与工作相关事故后重返工作岗位之间的关系。

Opioids, such as oxycodone and fentanyl, are powerful and highly addictive painkillers.


“There’s been an exponential increase in prescribed opioids in Australia in last 10 years,” Professor Roche, based in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said.

“The increase in prescribed opioids is not necessarily a problem but the research shows it’s associated with a high level of adverse outcomes, including addiction, tolerance, fatal and non-fatal overdose,” she said.

“There’s good evidence from overseas studies to suggest that opioid use in the workforce can lead to injury, and that opioid use while on WorkCover can impair a worker’s ability to return to work, but our study is the first of its kind in Australia to quantify that relationship.”

使用提供的数据链接技术SA-NT数据链接(a linkage service enabling research and analysis of de-identified data from multiple databases), the study will look at the patterns of prescribed opioid use in SA over a 10-year period. Researchers will then compare user profiles with a range of other data to identify links between opioid use and injury, and other adverse outcomes.


“Opioids can impair your ability to stand and walk. They also affect your hand/eye coordination and your ability to act quickly and think clearly.



“在90年代,如果您去医院进行标准手术,您可能会停留一周左右,但是现在进行了许多钥匙孔手术的手术,因此人们通常在医院24至48小时,并且经常出院大量处方止痛药 - 重复处方。



“The problem is likely to get worse because we have an ageing population; so there’s going to be more hip and knee replacements, more incidences of rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions that require short and long-term pain relief.”

Adding another layer to the complex issue, Professor Roche said there is no real-time electronic patient prescription record in Australia, therefore a patient could source multiple scripts from multiple GPs without the prescriber knowing the patient is receiving multiple scripts.

“In Australia, it’s easy to go to several different doctors because there’s no way each doctor will know what’s already been prescribed.

“Doctors can also find it difficult to say no when someone comes to them seeking pain relief because they see it as their duty to help. Some are also not sure what else they can offer to help.”

Professor Roche said the research findings will be used to inform best-practice policy on Australia’s use of prescription painkillers.

“We’re not trying to stop people from having access to medication; we’re trying to identify when there is an increased risk of harm, and the people who are particularly vulnerable, so we can develop alternative treatment strategies that produce the best possible outcome.”



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