New research reveals that work-related injuries accounted for more opioid prescriptions from 2010 to 2019 than other injury-related health conditions.
A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shows that during the period covered, nearly 28% of all opioid prescriptions were for work-related injuries. However, only 22% of reported injuries among adults were work-related.
After accounting for other factors, researchers found that work-related injuries increased the chances of opioid prescriptions by one third.
Researchers also found that work-related injuries accounted for 37% of the total number of days that opioids were prescribed and for nearly 40% of the total opioid cost. Further, when compared to other injuries, work-related injuries were associated with opioid prescriptions that were 6 days longer and cost $29 more per year, on average.
Study collected data on opioid prescription patterns
This study was conducted to:
- address the relationship between work-related injuries and the ongoing opioid crisis, and
- to gather data on how patterns of opioid prescriptions in the work environment may differ from patterns of opioid prescriptions in other environments.
To gather data for the study, researchers used a nationwide survey, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, to compare opioid prescriptions for work-related and other injuries from 2010 to 2019.
The survey included detailed information about injuries, illnesses, treatments and costs as well as demographics such as education, health, working status, income and insurance coverage.
Results show need to make workplaces safer
NIOSH said that these findings highlight the need for making workplaces safer and for supporting recovery from work-related injuries and opioid use disorders.
These findings also show the need to use alternative approaches to treating pain resulting from work-related injuries.