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High prevalence of opioid use by Social Security disability recipients, reports Medical Care
Date:8/14/2014

age "morphine equivalent dose" (MED) also dipped in 2011. Still, nearly 20 percent of chronic users were taking a dose of at least 100 milligrams MED, while ten percent were taking 200 milligrams. "Opioid use of this intensity has been associated with risk of overdose death in the general US population and more specifically in disabled workers," Dr Morden and colleagues write.

With Wide Regional Variations in Opioid Prescribing

The researchers also found variations in opioid use across US health care regions. The regional prevalence of opioid use among SSDI recipients ranged from 33.0 to 58.6 percent; chronic use ranged from 14.0 to 36.6 percent. Drug dosage and specific opioids prescribed also varied by region.

The high prevalence and intensity of opioid use among SSDI recipients parallels the preponderance of musculoskeletal disorders, such as back painsome type of musculoskeletal condition was present in 94 percent of chronic opioid users. The researchers also note the high rate of depression, 38 percent, among patients taking chronic opioids.

Dr Morden and colleagues voice concern about the trends in opioid use by SSDI recipientsparticularly chronic use at potentially hazardous doses. "We are not suggesting that all chronic opioid use is more harmful than beneficial," they write, "but rather that the common and increasing chronic use we observed seems inconsistent with the uncertainties surrounding such prescribing practice."

The regional variation identified in the study "shows a lack of standardized approach and reveals regions with mean MED levels associated with overdose risk," the researchers add. They urge further studies to assess the clinical outcomes of opioid use by under-65 disabled workers and factors associated with chronic opioid use. They also call for the development of policies and programs that balance safety with high-quality pain management for this complex group of patients.


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Contact: Connie Hughes
Connie.Hughes@wolterskluwer.com
646-674-6348
Wolters Kluwer Health
Source:Eurekalert

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