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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Fentanyl for neuropathic pain in adults

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2016
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (94th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (82nd percentile)

Mentioned by

2 blogs
1 policy source
42 X users
2 Facebook pages
5 Wikipedia pages


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284 Mendeley
Fentanyl for neuropathic pain in adults
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, October 2016
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd011605.pub2
Pubmed ID

Sheena Derry, Cathy Stannard, Peter Cole, Philip J Wiffen, Roger Knaggs, Dominic Aldington, R Andrew Moore


Opioid drugs, including fentanyl, are commonly used to treat neuropathic pain, and are considered effective by some professionals. Most reviews have examined all opioids together. This review sought evidence specifically for fentanyl, at any dose, and by any route of administration. Other opioids are considered in separate reviews. To assess the analgesic efficacy of fentanyl for chronic neuropathic pain in adults, and the adverse events associated with its use in clinical trials. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, and Embase from inception to June 2016, together with the reference lists of retrieved articles, and two online study registries. We included randomised, double-blind studies of two weeks' duration or longer, comparing fentanyl (in any dose, administered by any route, and in any formulation) with placebo or another active treatment in chronic neuropathic pain. Two review authors independently searched for studies, extracted efficacy and adverse event data, and examined issues of study quality and potential bias. We did not carry out any pooled analyses. We assessed the quality of the evidence using GRADE. Only one study met our inclusion criteria. Participants were men and women (mean age 67 years), with postherpetic neuralgia, complex regional pain syndrome, or chronic postoperative pain. They were experiencing inadequate relief from non-opioid analgesics, and had not previously taken opioids for their neuropathic pain. The study used an enriched enrolment randomised withdrawal design. It was adequately blinded, but we judged it at unclear risk of bias for other criteria.Transdermal fentanyl (one-day fentanyl patch) was titrated over 10 to 29 days to establish the maximum tolerated and effective dose (12.5 to 50 µg/h). Participants who achieved a prespecified good level of pain relief with a stable dose of fentanyl, without excessive use of rescue medication or intolerable adverse events ('responders'), were randomised to continue with fentanyl or switch to placebo for 12 weeks, under double-blind conditions. Our prespecified primary outcomes were not appropriate for this study design, but the measures reported do give an indication of the efficacy of fentanyl in this condition.In the titration phase, 1 in 3 participants withdrew because of adverse events or inadequate pain relief, and almost 90% experienced adverse events. Of 258 participants who underwent open-label titration, 163 were 'responders' and entered the randomised withdrawal phase. The number of participants completing the study (and therefore continuing on treatment) without an increase of pain by more than 15/100 was 47/84 (56%) with fentanyl and 28/79 (35%) with placebo. Because only 63% responded sufficiently to enter the randomised withdrawal phase, this implies that only a maximum of 35% of participants entering the study would have had useful pain relief and tolerability with transdermal fentanyl, compared with 22% with placebo. Almost 60% of participants taking fentanyl were 'satisfied' and 'very satisfied' with their treatment at the end of the study, compared with about 40% with placebo. This outcome approximates to our primary outcome of moderate benefit using the Patient Global Impression of Change scale, but the group was enriched for responders and the method of analysis was not clear. The most common adverse events were constipation, nausea, somnolence, and dizziness.There was no information about other types of neuropathic pain, other routes of administration, or comparisons with other treatments.We downgraded the quality of the evidence to very low because there was only one study, with few participants and events, and there was no information about how data from people who withdrew were analysed. There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the suggestion that fentanyl works in any neuropathic pain condition.

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Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 284 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Unknown 283 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 46 16%
Student > Bachelor 35 12%
Student > Ph. D. Student 29 10%
Researcher 23 8%
Other 17 6%
Other 35 12%
Unknown 99 35%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 92 32%
Nursing and Health Professions 31 11%
Psychology 13 5%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 9 3%
Social Sciences 6 2%
Other 27 10%
Unknown 106 37%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 43. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 10 February 2024.
All research outputs
of 25,884,216 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 13,155 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 328,317 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 280 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,884,216 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 13,155 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 35.3. This one has done well, scoring higher than 85% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 328,317 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 94% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 280 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its contemporaries.