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Aten Primaria. 2014 Jan;46(1):32-9. doi: 10.1016/j.aprim.2013.08.007. Epub 2013 Dec 13.

[Observational and cross-sectional study of prevalence and severity of the opioid-induced bowel dysfunction].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

  • 1Unidad de Dolor, Hospital Universitario Virgen de las Nieves, Granada, España. Electronic address:
  • 2Servicio de Oncología Médica, Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro, Majadahonda, Madrid, España.
  • 3Servicio de Oncología Médica, Complejo Hospitalario Regional Carlos Haya, Málaga, España.
  • 4Unidad de Dolor, Hospital Universitario Miguel Servet, Zaragoza, España.
  • 5Unidad de Dolor, Hospital Universitario de La Princesa, Madrid, España.
  • 6Unidad de Cuidados Paliativos, Hospital Universitari Arnau de Vilanova de Lleida, Lleida, España.



To analyze the prevalence and severity of the opioid-induced bowel dysfunction (OBD) symptoms.


Epidemiological, observational and cross-sectional study.


Six Spanish centers participated.


A total of 317 outpatients with a diagnosis of cancer pain or non-cancer pain treated with a unique opioid were recruited.


The prevalence of OBD symptoms was measured using a visual analog scale (VAS: 0-100), and constipation was also assessed by the Bowel Function Index (BFI). The treatment for gastrointestinal symptoms was recorded, and the frequency of symptoms between different opioid treatments was compared. Finally, quality of life was evaluated.


The prevalence of OBD with at least one gastrointestinal disorder was 94.6%, with constipation being the most frequent symptom (BFI: 91.6%; VAS: 90.2%) and nearly half of the patients showed three or more symptoms with a VAS ≥ 4. No significant differences were detected in the prevalence of symptoms between the opioid groups. A decrease in the wellbeing of patients was detected related to moderate to severe gastrointestinal symptoms.


A high rate of gastrointestinal disorders probably related to OBD have been confirmed in patients on opioid therapy, highlighting the need for new drug strategies.


Abdominal pain; Analgesics; Analgésicos; Constipation; Dolor abdominal; Estreñimiento; Opioides; Opioids; Prevalence; Prevalencia

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