Educational intervention for physicians to address the risk of opioid abuse
Keywords:opioid abuse, Medicare population, predictive model, physician intervention
Objective: To evaluate the impact of a pilot intervention for physicians to support their treatment of patients at risk for opioid abuse.
Setting, design and patients, participants: Patients at risk for opioid abuse enrolled in Medicare plans were identified from July 1, 2012 to April 30, 2014 (N = 2,391), based on a published predictive model, and linked to 4,353 opioid-prescribing physicians. Patient-physician clusters were randomly assigned to one of four interventions using factorial design.
Interventions: Physicians received one of the following: Arm 1, patient information; Arm 2, links to educational materials for diagnosis and management of pain; Arm 3, both patient information and links to educational materials; or Arm 4, no communication.
Main outcome measures: Difference-in-difference analyses compared opioid and pain prescriptions, chronic high-dose opioid use, uncoordinated opioid use, and opioid-related emergency department (ED) visits. Logistic regression compared diagnosis of opioid abuse between cases and controls postindex.
Results: Mailings had no significant impact on numbers of opioid or pain medications filled, chronic high-dose opioid use, uncoordinated opioid use, ED visits, or rate of diagnosed opioid abuse. Relative to Arm 4, odds ratios (95% CI) for diagnosed opioid abuse were Arm 1, 0.95(0.63-1.42); Arm 2, 0.83(0.55-1.27); Arm 3, 0.72(0.46-1.13). While 84.7 percent had ≥ 1 psychiatric diagnoses during preindex (p = 0.89 between arms), only 9.5 percent had ≥ 1 visit with mental health specialists (p = 0.53 between arms).
Conclusions: Although this intervention did not affect pain-related outcomes, future interventions involving care coordination across primary care and mental health may impact opioid abuse and improve quality of life of patients with pain.
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