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Albertapatients.ca Exploratory Research – Prescription Opioid Use Among Alberta Patients

Please note: Research findings should be directly attributed to albertapatients.ca.


(EDMONTON) Discussions between patients and their physicians about the use of opioids to manage pain are relatively common in Alberta, although fewer patients actually receive a prescription according to a recent survey conducted by albertapatients.ca.  Among those who received a prescription opioid for pain from their physician, a bare majority required a second prescription for their condition.  Though a small percentage of Alberta patients report that they or someone in their family has had an issue or complication related to opioid use, the incidence of complications warrants additional research with patients.





  • One-third of Alberta patients report that they or another member of their household have spoken to a physician within the past year about using an opioid to manage pain
    • However, only 19% of individual Alberta patients report actually receiving an opioid drug prescription in the past year (27% total household incidence)


  • One-quarter of Alberta patients report that someone in their household has received an opioid prescription within the last year
    • 19% themselves
    • 10% someone else in the household


  • Among those receiving an opioid prescription, roughly one-half (51%) report that a second prescription was required for their condition, while just under one-third did not finish the entire first prescription


  • Fewer than one-in-ten (7%) of Alberta patients report that they or someone in their household has had an issue or complication with an opioid prescription they have received within the past year
    • Though the incidence of opioid issues is relatively low among the overall patient population, this translates into over one-quarter (27%) of the households where someone has received an opioid prescription recently encountering some problem or complication with their medication.This finding warrants additional research with patients to determine, among other things, the nature, cause and outcome of challenges with the opioid medicine


Click to view key news release results: ABP Opioid Release July 2018



About albertapatients


These findings are drawn from research conducted on behalf of the Alberta Medical Association for its albertapatients initiative – an online community that provides Albertans the opportunity to provide input and feedback into the province’s health care system and help shape its future in Alberta through regular professionally executed survey research.  This initiative acts as a conduit for the AMA Board of Directors and Alberta’s doctors to better understand the patient experience and patient priorities and preferences, as well as updating patients on what’s going on in healthcare deliver in Alberta. This study was designed and conducted in response to interest expressed by albertapatients community members.


Research findings should be directly attributed to albertapatients.ca



Survey Methodology


These are findings of an albertapatients.ca survey conducted on behalf of the Alberta Medical Association. ThinkHQ Public Affairs Inc. is a Canadian-based independent public opinion consultancy and is the Alberta Medical Association’s research partner in the operation of albertapatients.ca.


The Study was fielded via a representative online research panel sample (albertapatients) between May 24 and 31, 2018.  Participants are Alberta residents over the age of 18, and the sample has been weighted to reflect the gender, age and regional distribution of Albertans who have used the healthcare system within the past 12 months.  A total of 2191 interviews were conducted for the survey. The online methodology utilizes a representative but non-random sample therefore margin of error is not applicable. However, a probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.1 percentage points.






Shannon Rupnarain

Assistant Executive Director, Public Affairs

Alberta Medical Association



Marc Henry

Research Director, albertapatients.ca

President, ThinkHQ Public Affairs, Inc.