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  1. Beissner, Katherine PT, PhD
  2. Brooks, Gary PT, DrPH
  3. Neville, Kevin PT, DPT, CCS
  4. Trachtenberg, Melissa BA
  5. Murtaugh, Christopher M. PhD
  6. Reid, M. Carrington MD, PhD


Pain is a common problem for patients receiving home care, often limiting mobility and contributing to functional decline. Pharmacological pain management is common, but all drugs bring some risk of side effects and adverse reactions. The opioid epidemic has brought into question analgesic prescribing patterns across all care settings. This study, which used data collected between 2012 and 2014, examines the pain medications used by older adults with activity-limiting pain receiving home care physical therapy in a large metropolitan home care agency. Eighty-five percent of subjects took at least one analgesic medication on admission to home care, and of these, 51.3% were using an opioid, 33.1% used acetaminophen, and 23.2% used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). At the 60-day follow-up, the most common medication classes taken by participants included acetaminophen (38%), opioids (35.9%), and NSAIDs (31.6%). We found racial/ethnic differences in analgesic use at baseline but not at follow-up. At baseline, analgesic use differed by pain type, but there were no differences at follow-up. The high use of medications to control pain by patients receiving home care, particularly opioid use, underscores the importance of providers being alert to potential adverse drug reactions.