Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Palliat Med. 2013 Feb;27(2):105-14. doi: 10.1177/0269216312461973. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

Multivariate analysis of countries' government and health-care system influences on opioid availability for cancer pain relief and palliative care: more than a function of human development.

Author information

  • 1Pain & Policy Studies Group, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.



Many international governmental and nongovernmental organizations regard unrelieved cancer pain as a significant global public health problem. Although opioids such as morphine are considered essential medicines in the provision of palliative care and for treating cancer pain, especially when the pain is severe, low- and middle-income countries often lack such medications.


The primary aim of this study was to examine countries' government and health-care system influences on opioid availability for cancer pain and palliative care, as a means to identify implications for improving appropriate access to prescription opioids.


A multivariate regression of 177 countries' consumption of opioids (in milligrams/death from cancer and AIDS) contained country-level predictor variables related to public health, including Human Development Index, palliative care infrastructure, and health system resources and expenditures.


Results were highly explanatory (adjusted R(2) = 82%) and Human Development Index was the most predictive variable when controlling for all other factors in the statistical model (B = 11.875, confidence interval = 10.216, 13.534, p < 0.0001).


Study findings demonstrate that a limited number of predictor variables characterizing a country's government and health-care system infrastructure can explain its opioid consumption level, with the greatest influence being very high Human Development Index. However, Human Development Index is not the most policy-relevant factor, and this finding should be reconciled against the reality that many countries with low or medium Human Development Index have succeeded in creating and sustaining a health-care system to strengthen cancer pain care and palliative care, including through the appropriate use of essential prescription opioids.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center