Patterns of Opioid Prescribing and Predictors of Chronic Opioid Use in an Industrial Cohort, 2003 to 2013

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To appreciate the impact of the opioid epidemic in workers, we described opioid prescription patterns in a US industrial cohort over a 10-year period and assessed predictors of chronic prescription.


A multiyear (2003 to 2013) cross-sectional analysis of employer-sponsored health care claims for enrolled workers (N: 21,357 to 44,769) was performed.


The proportion of workers prescribed opioids nearly doubled in the 10-year period. The strongest predictor of chronic opioid prescribing was year, with an increase in prescriptions each year from 2003 to 2013 (odds ratio = 2.90, 95% confidence interval: 2.41 to 3.48). Additional predictors included older age, white race, hourly wage, low back pain, and osteoarthritis.


Opioid prescribing for industrial workers substantially increased from 2003 to 2013. Occupational health professionals should be aware of the potential for chronic opioid use among workers to assess job safety and appropriate treatment of work-related injuries.

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