[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Record numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans survive their war injuries and yet continue to experience pain and mental health problems, particularly posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Little is known about the association of mental health disorders and prescription opioid use.
To investigate the effect of mental health disorders, particularly PTSD, on risks and adverse clinical outcomes associated with prescription opioid use.
Retrospective cohort study involving 141,029 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who received at least 1 non-cancer-related pain diagnosis within 1 year of entering the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from October 1, 2005, through December 31, 2010.
Independent association of mental health disorders and the prescription of opioids, higher risk opioid use, and adverse clinical outcomes (eg, accidents and overdose) within 1 year of receiving a pain-related diagnosis.
A total of 15,676 veterans were prescribed opioids within 1 year of their initial pain diagnosis. Compared with 6.5% of veterans without mental health disorders, 17.8% (adjusted relative risk [RR], 2.58; 95% CI, 2.49-2.67) of veterans with PTSD and 11.7% (adjusted RR, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.67-1.82) with other mental health diagnoses but without PTSD were significantly more likely to receive opioids for pain diagnoses. Of those who were prescribed pain medication, veterans with PTSD were more likely than those without mental health disorders to receive higher-dose opioids (22.7% vs 15.9%, adjusted RR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.31-1.54), receive 2 or more opioids concurrently (19.8% vs 10.7%, adjusted RR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.70-2.06), receive sedative hypnotics concurrently (40.7% vs 7.6%, adjusted RR, 5.46; 95% CI, 4.91-6.07), or obtain early opioid refills (33.8% vs 20.4%; adjusted RR, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.53-1.75). Receiving prescription opioids (vs not) was associated with an increased risk of adverse clinical outcomes for all veterans (9.5% vs 4.1%; RR, 2.33; 95% CI, 2.20-2.46), which was most pronounced in veterans with PTSD.
Among US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, mental health diagnoses, especially PTSD, were associated with an increased risk of receiving opioids for pain, high-risk opioid use, and adverse clinical outcomes.
JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 03/2012; 307(9):940-7. DOI:10.1001/jama.2012.234 · 35.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To characterize long-term prescriptions for commonly prescribed anxiolytic benzodiazepines to veteran patients and to identify factors associated with high daily doses, we analyzed the linked pharmacy and administrative databases from New England Veterans Healthcare System (VISN 1). We analyzed treatment episodes of 3 months or longer with the 4 most commonly prescribed agents: alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam. Descriptive statistics and univariate and multivariate analyses described the sample and tested associations of pharmacological and clinical variables for patients prescribed the top 5% of average daily doses ("high-dose" prescriptions). From 16,630 full or partial treatment episodes for all 4 agents analyzed within a 42-month window, average daily doses were predominantly moderate, age-sensitive, and stable; refill lag intervals were short. Patients on "high-dose" prescriptions for the 4 agents combined, compared with "middle quartile" dose prescriptions, in adjusted analyses, were younger, more likely to have posttraumatic stress disorder (odds ratio [OR], 2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.17-3.13), substance abuse (OR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.25-1.80), and anxiety (OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.11-1.60) and were more likely to be receiving concurrent oxycodone/acetaminophen (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.64-2.56), anxiolytic benzodiazepine (OR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.12-2.03), antidepressant (OR, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.80-2.58), and neuroleptic (OR, 2.03; 95% CI, 1.69-2.44) prescriptions. These results indicate that veteran patients prescribed anxiolytic benzodiazepines typically receive modest, nonincreasing doses over long-term treatment episodes. However, those on the highest average daily doses, typically more than recommended guidelines, are more likely to have clinical diagnoses and concurrent prescriptions for psychoactive medications indicative of more complex and, perhaps, problematic management.
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