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Oral opioid prescribing to active duty US military personnel: a cross-sectional population
  1. Joshua M Junge1,2,3,
  2. Hailey Murray4,
  3. Ashton H Goldman5,6,
  4. Gregory J Booth1,2,3 and
  5. George C Balazs5,6
  1. 1 Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
  2. 2 Department of Anesthesiology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  3. 3 Naval Biotechnology Group, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, VA, USA
  4. 4 Family Medicine, US Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida, USA
  5. 5 Bone & Joint Sports Medicine Institute, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
  6. 6 Department of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr George C Balazs, Orthopaedic Surgery, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Virginia, USA; gcbalazs{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Introduction While civilian opioid prescriptions have seen a dramatic decline in recent years, there are few studies investigating trends in opioid prescription in the active duty military population. We evaluated oral opioid prescribing patterns to active duty military personnel in the Military Health System (MHS) from 2017 to 2020 to determine the incidence of opioid prescriptions as well as demographic and military-specific risk factors for receiving an oral opioid prescription.

Methods The MHS Data Repository was queried from 2017 to 2020 to identify all outpatient oral opioid prescriptions to active duty military personnel in August of each year as well as demographic information on the study population. Data were evaluated in a logistic regression model, and ORs of receiving an oral opioid prescription were calculated for each factor.

Results The proportion of active duty military personnel receiving an oral opioid prescription declined from 2.71% to 1.26% (53% relative reduction) over the study period. Within the logistic regression model, female military personnel were significantly more likely to receive opioid prescriptions compared with men, and there was a stepwise increase in likelihood of an opioid prescription with increasing age. Army and Marine personnel, personnel without a history of military deployment and those stationed within the continental USA were significantly more likely to receive an opioid prescription.

Discussion The substantial decrease in oral opioid prescriptions to active duty military personnel mirrors data published in the civilian community. The identified risk factors for receiving an opioid prescription may be potential targets for future interventions to further decrease prescribing.

  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors JMG assisted in project conception and design, data collection, data analysis and was primarily responsible for drafting and editing the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript. HM assisted with project conception and design, data collection, and editing of the manuscript, and approved the final submitted manuscript. AHG assisted with data analysis, editing of the manuscript and approved the final submitted manuscript. GJB assisted with project conception and design, data analysis, editing of the manuscript, and approved the final submitted manuscript. GCB was primarily responsible for the overall project conception and design, assisted with data collection and data analysis, was primarily responsible for creation of all figures, assisted in drafting and editing of the manuscript, and approved the final submitted manuscript. GCB accepts full responsibility for the work and conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish. All authors had full, unrestricted access to the data reported in this study.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed in this manuscript reflect the results of research conducted by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.