International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 291–294 | Cite as

Information on risk of constipation for Danish users of opioids, and their laxative use

  • Anton PottegårdEmail author
  • Thomas Bøllingtoft Knudsen
  • Kim van Heesch
  • Hassan Salmasi
  • Simon Schytte-Hansen
  • Jens Søndergaard
Short Research Report


Background While it is well known that use of opioids often cause constipation, little is known about the information given to patients regarding this potential side-effect and their use of laxatives to prevent it. Objective To assess the degree of information provided by the prescriber to users of opioids by the time of the first prescription regarding the risk of constipation. Method Interviews with patients filling an opioid at a community pharmacy were performed by the dispensing pharmacist or pharmaconomist at the pharmacy. Information collected concerned the patient, the opioid, information received regarding constipation, current constipation and current laxative treatment. Results A total of 286 interviews were completed. Overall, 28.3 % remembered having received information about the risk of constipation by the time of the first prescription. Excluding 49 first-time opioid users, we found 91 laxative users and 146 non-laxative users, of whom 73.6 and 4.8 %, respectively, currently experienced constipation. Conclusion Only a small proportion of patients with a prescription for opioids remembered having had information on potential constipation caused by opioids and having received any recommendation on how to use laxatives to prevent constipation. Interventions should focus on whether constipation is present and on rational use of laxatives.


Constipation Denmark Laxative Opioids Patient information Prescribing 



The authors would like to thank the staff at Copenhagen Sønderbro Pharmacy for their help in collecting the data for the study.


No external funding was obtained for the study.

Conflicts of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anton Pottegård
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Thomas Bøllingtoft Knudsen
    • 3
  • Kim van Heesch
    • 2
  • Hassan Salmasi
    • 2
  • Simon Schytte-Hansen
    • 4
  • Jens Søndergaard
    • 3
  1. 1.Clinical Pharmacology, Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense CDenmark
  2. 2.Copenhagen Sønderbro PharmacyCopenhagen SDenmark
  3. 3.Research Unit of General Practice, Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense CDenmark
  4. 4.Unit for Patient SafetyThe Capital Region of DenmarkHvidovreDenmark

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