Americans and Canadians are seven times more likely to fill a prescription for opioid pain pills in the week after surgery than Swedes, says a study published Wednesday, one of the first to quantify international differences.
More than 75% of patients in the U.S. and Canada filled a prescription for opioids following four common surgeries, compared with 11% of Swedes, researchers report in JAMA Network Open. Americans also received the highest doses of opioids.
So, are Americans and Canadians wimpier than Swedes when it comes to pain, or is something else going on?
“There are a lot of tough people in lots of places,” demurred Mark Neuman, an associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and a co-author