A 10-yr analysis of chronic pelvic pain and chronic opioid therapy in the women veteran population

Sara B. Cichowski, Rebecca G. Rogers, Yuko Komesu, Erin Murata, Clifford Qualls, Allison Murata, Glen Murata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) affects an estimated 30% of women Veterans. Previous research shows high rates of narcotic abuse in the women Veteran population. Narcotics are not recommended for the treatment of CPP. Understanding how CPP impacts narcotic prescribing in the women Veteran population is critical to addressing the public health crisis of opioid abuse. Our objective was to compare chronic opioid therapy (COT) prescribed 5 yr prior to and following CPP diagnosis and to identify predictors of COT as well as adverse events associated with COT. We choose to look at 10 yr of data because we thought this time period would provide unique insight into the longitudinal associations of CPP and COT and was available in the database. Materials and Methods: Women with non-cancer CPP were included for analyses from the Veteran's Affairs Corporate Database Warehouse. COT was defined as 90 d of opiates/calendar year for each of the 5 yr proceeding and following the diagnosis of CPP. Patient characteristics and potential variables influencing COT were collected. We compared baseline demographics between the women who received COT to the women who did not receive COT to find additional demographic predictors of COT in association with CPP. Multivariable analysis identified predictors of COT in this population of women with CPP. We utilized an interrupted time series analysis to understand the impact of the diagnosis of CPP on COT. Results: A total of 49,601 women met inclusion criteria with an average age of 40.1 ± 11.5 yr; 37.3% self-characterized as being a racial minority and 24% had a history of military sexual trauma. Chronic use increased significantly (p < 0.001) in the 5 yr preceding the diagnosis of CPP from 6.3% (n = 3124) of women at time-5 to 13.6% (n = 6746) at time 0. In the first year following the diagnosis of CPP, 16.8% (n = 8,333) of women with CPP met the criteria for COT (p < 0.001) and 15% (n = 7440) of women with CPP remained in the COT group for the remaining 5 yr following the diagnosis. On average women in the COT group had 250-292 d of opioids/year. When comparing women who received chronic narcotics following the diagnosis of CPP versus those who did not receive chronic narcotics, women who received COT were older, more likely to smoke and more frequently diagnosed with other pain conditions such as back pain, headaches, and fibromyalgia. (All p < 0.001). In the multivariable model, predictors of COT following CPP diagnosis included prior COT (OR = 10.0 (95% CI 9.4, 10.6), a positive history of military sexual trauma, smoking, and other chronic pain conditions. Conclusions: The distinct pattern of prescribing shown in this cohort may mean COT is prescribed for CPP and this prescribing pattern contributes to the adverse events associated with COT. As COT is not recommended for CPP, physicians need more education on the therapies available to help CPP patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberusy114
Pages (from-to)E635-E640
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Nov 5 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic Opioid Therapy
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain
  • Female Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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