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Oral opioid prescribing to active duty US military personnel: a cross-sectional population

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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