Few investigations examine patterns of opioid and nonopioid analgesic prescribing and concurrent pain intensity ratings before and after institution of safer prescribing programs such as the October 2013 Veterans Health Administration system-wide Opioid Safety Initiative (OSI) implementation. We conducted a quasi-experimental pre-post observational study of all older U.S. veterans (≥50 years old) with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. All associated outpatient analgesic prescriptions and outpatient pain intensity ratings from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2016, were analyzed with segmented regression of interrupted time series. Standardized monthly rates for each analgesic class (total, opioid, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, acetaminophen, and other study analgesics) were analyzed with segmented negative binomial regression models with overall slope, step, and slope change. Similarly, segmented linear regression was used to analyze pain intensity ratings and percentage of those reporting pain. All models were additionally adjusted for age, sex, and race. Before OSI implementation, total analgesic prescriptions showed a steady rise, abruptly decreasing to a flat trajectory after OSI implementation. This trend was primarily due to a decrease in opioid prescribing after OSI. Total prescribing after OSI implementation was partially compensated by continuing increased prescribing of other study analgesics as well as a significant rise in acetaminophen prescriptions (post-OSI). No changes in nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug prescribing were seen. A small rise in the percentage of those reporting pain but not mean pain intensity ratings continued over the study period with no changes associated with OSI. Changes in analgesic prescribing trends were not paralleled by changes in reported pain intensity for older veterans with osteoarthritis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine