Patterns of opioid analgesic prescription among patients with osteoarthritis.
This study describes patterns of opioid analgesic prescription during a one-year period among a sample of patients with osteoarthritis (OA). The study sample included 3,061 patients with prior ICD-9 codes indicating a diagnosis of OA who were treated at a federal Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Specific opioid variables included: any opioid prescription, number of specific opioid drugs prescribed, total number of opioid prescriptions, total number of days supply of opioids, and daily opioid doses. We also examined relationships of demographic characteristics to opioid variables. Results revealed that 41% of patients received at least one opioid prescription. Opioids were prescribed significantly less frequently among African-Americans than Caucasians and the number of opioid prescriptions declined with increasing age. The mean annual supply of opioids was 104 days. Days' supply of opioids was also lower for African Americans and older patients. Daily opioid doses were, on average, below recommended daily doses for the treatment of OA. Findings of this study suggest that opioids are frequently prescribed to individuals with OA and that these drugs may be gaining acceptability for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Additional research is needed to examine reasons for racial differences in opioid prescribing, as well as the prescription of these medications at fairly low doses.
Dominick, KL; Bosworth, HB; Dudley, TK; Waters, SJ; Campbell, LC; Keefe, FJ
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