Traumatic injuries and persistent opioid use in the USA: findings from a nationally representative survey

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Although opioid abuse is a rising epidemic in the USA, there are no studies to date on the incidence of persistent opioid use following injuries. Therefore, the aims of this study are: (1) to examine the incidence of persistent opioid use among a nationally representative sample of injured and non-injured populations; (2) to evaluate whether an injury is an independent predictor of persistent opioid use.


Data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey were pooled (years 2009–2012). Adults were followed for about 2 years, during which they were surveyed about injury status and opioid use every 4–5 months. To determine whether injuries are associated with persistent opioid use, weighted multiple logistic regressions were constructed.


While 2.3 million injured individuals received any opioid during the follow-up, 371 170 (15.6%) individuals became persistent opioid users (defined as opioid use across multiple time points). In a multiple logistic regression analysis adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported health, those who sustained injuries were 1.4 times (95% CI 1.1 to 1.9) more likely to report persistent opioid use than those without injuries.


We found injuries to be significantly associated with persistent opioid use in a nationally representative sample. Further investment in injury prevention may facilitate reduction of persistent opioid use and, thus, improve population health and reduce health expenditures.

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