The Impact of Opioid Prescriptions on Duration of Temporary Disability

By David Neumark, Bogdan Savych, Randall Lea, M.D.

March 6, 2018 Related Topics: Prescription Drugs and Opioids, Return to Work

A new study released today examines the effect of opioid prescriptions on the duration of temporary disability benefits among workers with work-related low back injuries. While medical practice guidelines often advise against routine (i.e., nonsurgical) use of opioids for treatment of low back injuries, opioid use in nonsurgical lower back cases is common.

Using data from 28 states, for injuries between 2008 and 2013 where workers had more than seven days of lost work time, the study estimates the effects of opioid prescriptions measured in several ways: whether workers had any opioid prescriptions, whether workers received multiple prescriptions for opioids, and whether workers had longer-term opioid prescriptions (defined as having prescriptions within the first three months after an injury and three or more filled opioid prescriptions between the 7th and 12th months after an injury). For each of these measures, we ask the following question: What is the effect of opioid prescriptions on duration of temporary disability while workers are recovering from an injury?

The 28 states included in this study, which represent over 80 percent of benefits paid, are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Impact of Opioid Prescriptions on Duration of Temporary Disability. Bogdan Savych, David Neumark, and Randy Lea. March 2018. WC-18-18.

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Research Questions:

  1. Do opioid prescriptions increase duration of temporary disability benefits?
  2. Do longer-term opioid prescriptions increase duration of temporary disability benefits?

 

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