Cambridge, MA – Despite substantial reductions in recent years, opioids continue to be widely dispensed to workers with work-related injuries in several states. A new study released today by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) examines the factors that are associated with longer-term opioid use.
“Longer-term opioid dispensing for workers with work-related injuries can lead to increased disability duration and even death,” said John Ruser, CEO of WCRI. “Our study identifies which patients are more likely to develop longer-term opioid use, given what is known about the worker, nature of the injury, and nature of the medical care early in the claim. These findings can help policymakers and stakeholders in targeting policies and programs aimed at reducing longer-term use of opioids to the appropriate worker.”
According to the study, Early Predictors of Longer-Term Opioid Dispensing, the strongest predictors of longer-term opioid prescribing are related to opioid prescribing early in a claim. This study examined a comprehensive list of predictors, and the number of days’ supply of opioids within 30, 60, or 90 days of injury was the most important variable predicting development of longer-term opioid dispensing.
Among the major findings, the study shows that workers were more likely to have longer-term opioid dispensing if they:
- received a higher number of days’ supply of opioids early after an injury;
- took a higher total dose of opioids in the initial 90-day period;
- simultaneously received opioids and other central nervous system depressants;
- had three or more opioid prescriptions within the first 90 days after the injury, compared with those who received one or two opioid prescriptions; and
- experienced a longer time between an injury and the initial opioid prescription.
The data for this study include workers with more than seven days of lost time who had injuries between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016, from 33 states. The study was authored by Dr. Bogdan Savych and Dr. Vennela Thumula.
For more information or to purchase a copy: WCRI: Early Predictors of Longer-Term Opioid Dispensing