Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 232–236 | Cite as

Variability in prescribing for musculoskeletal pain in Finnish primary health care

  • Pekka Mäntyselkä
  • Esko Kumpusalo
  • Jorma Takala
  • Riitta Ahonen:


Objective: To assess primary care physicians' prescribing patterns for musculoskeletal pain in different diagnostic categories.Methods: The data were collected in 25 randomly selected health centres, in which a total of 28 physicians took part in the four‐week study. Physicians recorded all the medicines they prescribed for patients visiting due to pain. Visits resulting in a diagnosis of musculoskeletal disease or injury were included in this study.Results: Analgesics, including non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), were prescribed for 61% of the patients. NSAIDs were prescribed for 46%, topical analgesics for 15% and opioids for 4% of the patients. In general, ibuprofen was the most frequently prescribed drug but back and neck pains were most commonly treated with naproxen. No difference between patients' genders was observed in analgesic prescriptions. Prescribing was associated with patient's age, physician's view on priority of visit, diagnosis and intensity of pain. There was a large variation in prescribing patterns between individual physicians and between different areas of the country.Conclusion: NSAIDs are the prevailing treatment for musculoskeletal pain in Finnish primary health care. Different drugs are favoured according to the diagnosis. The large variability in prescribing patterns cannot be explained solely by the characteristics of pain or patients.

Analgesics Drug prescribing NSAID Pain Primary health care 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pekka Mäntyselkä
    • 1
  • Esko Kumpusalo
    • 1
  • Jorma Takala
    • 1
  • Riitta Ahonen:
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Public Health and General PracticeUniversity of KuopioKuopioFinland
  2. 2.Department of Social PharmacyUniversity of KuopioFinland

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