Risk for opioid use disorder (OUD) may be increased among less affluent, older adults, as these groups were more likely to self-report receiving opioids for long-term chronic pain. These findings were published in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research.

Data for this study were sourced from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted in 2019. Adults (N=31,997) who responded to home-based interviews were asked to self-report prescribed opioids and use in the last 12 months, demographics, and clinical characteristics. Potential risk factors for OUD were evaluated.

The study population comprised 51.7% women, aged mean 52.1 (SD, 18.4) years, and 63.9% were White.

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The weighted percent of individuals reporting opioid use in the previous 12 months was 12.3%, use for acute pain in the past 3 months was 65.1%, and use for chronic pain in the last 3 months was 54.7%.

In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, opioid use for acute pain was associated with patients aged ≥65 years (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.45; 95% CI, 0.25-0.82; P <.05) and patients aged 45-64 years (aOR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.27-0.89; P <.05).

Predictors for using opioids for long-term chronic pain associated with patients aged ≥65 years (aOR, 7.8; 95% CI, 4.0-15.3; P <.0001), 45-64 years (aOR, 7.8; 95% CI, 4.1-14.7; P <.0001), 30-44 years (aOR, 4.0; 95% CI, 2.1-7.4; P <.0001), at ≥400% of the federal poverty line (aOR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.26-0.64; P <.0001), and 200%-399% of the federal poverty line (aOR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.38-0.93; P <.05).

This study had several limitations. The NHIS did not query participants about use of nonprescription opioids or ask individuals about opioid prescription indications for reasons other than cancer, headache, or arthritis. Furthermore, there was a lack of temporality, and it remains unclear whether patterns changed with time.

This study found that individuals receiving opioids for long-term chronic pain were older and less affluent and may be at risk for OUD.


Weissman JD, Russell D, Taylor J. Disparities in opioid prescribing for long‑term chronic and short‑term acute pain: Findings from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey. J Behav Health Serv Res. 2022;49(3):315-334. doi:10.1007/s11414-022-09790-8

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor