Opiod use, risk factors, morbidity, workplace injury


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health


Importance Using opioids for acute pain can lead to long-term use and associated morbidity and mortality. Injury has been documented as a gateway to long-term opioid use in some populations, but data are limited for injured workers.

Objective To evaluate the prevalence and risk factors of long-term opioid use after injury among workers in Tennessee who were opioid free at the time of injury.

Design, Setting, and Participants This cohort study identified injured workers aged 15 to 99 years who reported only 1 injury to the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation from March 2013 to December 2015 and had no opioid prescription in the 60 days before injury. Participants were matched to their prescription history in Tennessee’s prescription drug monitoring program. Analysis was conducted from November 2017 to March 2018. Logistic regression models were used to calculate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs for associations of demographic, injury, and opioid use variables with long-term use.

Main Outcomes and Measures The primary outcome was long-term opioid use, defined as having an opioid supplied for 45 or more days in the 90 days after injury.

Results Among 58 278 injured workers who received opioids after injury (18 977 [32.5%] aged 15-34 years, 27 514 [47.2%] aged 35-54 years, and 11 787 [20.2%] aged 55-99 years; 32 607 [56.0%] men), 46 399 (79.6%) were opioid free at the time of injury. Among opioid-free injured workers, 1843 (4.0%) began long-term opioid use. After controlling for covariates, long-term use was associated with receiving 20 or more days’ supply in the initial opioid prescription compared with receiving less than 5 days’ supply (OR, 28.94; 95% CI, 23.44-35.72) and visiting 3 or more prescribers in the 90 days after injury compared with visiting 1 prescriber (OR, 14.91; 95% CI, 12.15-18.29). However, even just 5 days’ to 9 days’ supply was associated with an increase in the odds of long-term use compared with less than 5 days’ supply (OR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.56-2.14).

Conclusions and Relevance In this study of injured workers, injury was associated with long-term opioid use. The number of days’ supply of the initial opioid prescription was the strongest risk factor of developing long-term use, highlighting the importance of careful prescribing for initial opioid prescriptions.

Original Citation

Durand Z, Nechuta S, Krishnaswami S, Hurwitz EL, McPheeters M. Prevalence and Risk Factors Associated With Long-term Opioid Use After Injury Among Previously Opioid-Free Workers. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Jul 3;2(7):e197222.