Effects of Opioid-Related Policies on Opioid Utilization, Nature of Medical Care, and Duration of Disability

By David Neumark, Bogdan Savych

July 29, 2021 Related Topics: Outcomes for Injured Workers, Prescription Drugs and Opioids, Utilization

This new study examines the effects of must-access prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and recent regulations limiting the duration of initial opioid prescriptions on various outcomes for workers with work-related injuries. The policies examined were part of an extensive effort by stakeholders at local, state, and national levels to address potential excessive opioid prescribing and opioid abuse.

The study explores how policies limiting access to opioid prescriptions contributed to changes in opioid utilization and how they altered other medical care related to the management of pain. The study estimates the effects of state-level opioid policies by comparing outcomes in states that adopted the policies relative to states that did not, while accounting for other factors that could have influenced changes in opioid utilization and the other outcomes studied. 

The analysis includes information for workers injured between October 1, 2009, and March 31, 2018, in 33 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. These states represent 85 percent of benefits paid in 2017.

Effects of Opioid-Related Policies on Opioid Utilization, Nature of Medical Care, and Duration of Disability. David Neumark and Bogdan Savych. July 2021. WC-21-21.

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Research Questions:

  • Did must-access PDMPs and regulations limiting duration of initial opioid prescriptions reduce the amount of opioids prescribed to injured workers?
  • How did opioid-related policies affect medical care that may be a substitute for opioids?
  • What impact did must-access PDMPs and limits on initial prescriptions have on the duration of temporary disability benefits?

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