Objectives: To determine what proportion of a geographically defined population who receive new opioid prescriptions progresses to episodic or long-term patterns of opioid prescribing and to explore the clinical characteristics associated with patterns of opioid prescribing. Patients and Methods: Population-based drug prescription records for the population of Olmsted County between January 1 and December 31, 2009, were obtained using the Rochester Epidemiology Project medical records linkage system (N=142,377). All medical records were reviewed for a random sample of 293 patients who had a new ("incident") prescription for an opioid analgesic in 2009. Patients were followed through their medical records for 1 year after their initial prescription date, with patterns of opioid prescribing categorized as short-term, episodic, or long-term. Results: Overall, 293 patients received 515 new opioid prescriptions in 2009. Of these, 61 (21%) progressed to an episodic prescribing pattern and 19 (6%) progressed to a long-term prescribing pattern. In multivariable logistic regression analyses, substance abuse was significantly associated (P<.001) with a long-term opioid prescribing pattern as compared with an short-term opioid prescribing pattern. Past or current nicotine use (P=.03) and substance abuse (P=.04) were significantly associated with an episodic or long-term prescribing pattern as compared with a short-term prescribing pattern. Conclusion: Knowledge of the clinical characteristics associated with the progression of a short-term to an episodic or long-term opioid prescribing pattern could aid in the identification of at-risk patients and provide the basis for developing targeted clinical interventions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas