Little Reduction in Long Term Opioid Use in Most States

May 21, 2014

A new study, Longer-Term Use of Opioids, 2nd Edition, from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) found that there was little reduction in the prevalence of longer-term opioid use in most states studied.

In most states, the percentage of claims with opioids that received opioids on a longer-term basis changed little, within 2 percentage points, between 2008/2010 and 2010/2012, according to the study.

The study examined the prevalence of longer-term use of opioids in 25 states and how often the services recommended by medical treatment guidelines were used for monitoring and managing chronic opioid therapy. The recommended services include drug testing and psychological evaluations and treatment, which may help prevent opioid misuse resulting in addiction and even overdose deaths.

The study found a sizable increase across states in the use of drug testing over the study period. However, in some states, the percentage of longer-term opioid users who received these services was still low. The study also reported low use of psychological evaluations, which remained low over the study period.

“The issue this study addresses is very serious, which is how often doctors followed recommended treatment guidelines for monitoring injured workers who are longer-term users of opioids,” said Dr. Richard Victor, WCRI’s executive director. “This study will help public officials, employers, and other stakeholders understand as well as balance providing appropriate care to injured workers while reducing unnecessary risks to patients and costs to employers.”

The study found longer-term opioid use was most prevalent in Louisiana, where 1 in 6 injured workers with opioids were identified as having longer-term use of opioids in 2010/2012. The numbers were 1 in 8 or 9 in New York, Pennsylvania, and pre-reform Texas. By contrast, fewer than 1 in 20 injured workers with opioids received opioids on a longer-term basis in several Midwest states (Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin) and New Jersey.

The study is based on approximately 264,000 workers’ compensation claims and 1.5 million prescriptions associated with those claims from 25 states. The claims represent injuries arising from October 1, 2007, to September 30, 2010, with prescriptions filled up to March 31, 2012. The underlying data reflect an average of 24 months of experience.

The following states are included in this study: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

To purchase a copy of this study, paste the following link into a browser:

Source: WCRI

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.