Factors Contributing to Variation in Nonmedical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers Among U.S. Workers: 2004–2014

Factors Contributing to Variation in Nonmedical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers Among U.S. Workers: 2004–2014

Published: Dec 30, 2021
Publisher: Mathematica
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Associated Project

Workers’ Compensation and the Opioid Epidemic: Analysis and Research Design Options

Time frame: 2018-2021

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Labor

Chief Evaluation Office

Authors

Wenjia Zhu

William Shaw

Key Findings
  • Nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers varied widely across states; it also varied considerably by workers' industry, occupation, and demographic characteristics such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity.
  • Differences in nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers between industries and occupations are largely explained by demographic differences between workers in those industries and occupations.
  • Policies to prevent nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers among U.S. workers might need to consider individual risk factors beyond occupation and industry.
  • The report analyses did not include use of heroin or illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids and stopped in 2014, so do not fully capture how the opioid crisis has shifted in the last decade. Future research could examine broader types of opioids, including heroin and fentanyl.

This study used data on self-reported nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers from 2004 to 2014 to address three primary research questions: (1) How does nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers among U.S. workers vary across states? (2) How does nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers among U.S. workers vary across industry, occupations, and other individual characteristics? and (3) How well do individual- and state-level factors explain the overall variation in nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers? To address these research questions, we first examined summary statistics for nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers by state, industry and occupation, and other individual characteristics. We then performed regression analyses to understand the separate contributions of individual- and state-level factors to the overall variation in nonmedical of prescription pain relievers.

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