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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Feb 1;44(3):211-218. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002840.

Initial Provider Specialty Is Associated With Long-term Opiate Use in Patients With Newly Diagnosed Low Back and Lower Extremity Pain.

Author information

1
Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.
2
Quantitative Sciences Unit, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.
3
Center for Health Policy and Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.

Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

Retrospective longitudinal cohort analysis of patients diagnosed in 2010, with continuous enrollment 6 months prior to and 12 months following the initial visit.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether provider specialty influences patterns of opiate utilization long after initial diagnosis.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:

Patients with low back pain present to a variety of providers and receive a spectrum of treatments, including opiate medications. The impact of initial provider type on opiate use in this population is uncertain.

METHODS:

We performed a retrospective analysis of opiate-naïve adult patients in the United States with newly diagnosed low back or lower extremity pain. We estimated the risk of early opiate prescription (≤14 d from diagnosis) and long-term opiate use (≥six prescriptions in 12 mo) based on the provider type at initial diagnosis using multivariable logistic regression, adjusting for patient demographics and comorbidities.

RESULTS:

We identified 478,981 newly diagnosed opiate-naïve patients. Of these, 40.4% received an opiate prescription within 1 year and 4.0% met criteria for long-term use. The most common initial provider type was family practice, associated with a 24.4% risk of early opiate prescription (95% CI, 24.1-24.6) and a 2.0% risk of long-term opiate use (95% CI, 2.0-2.1). Risk of receiving an early opiate prescription was higher among patients initially diagnosed by emergency medicine (43.1%; 95% CI, 41.6-44.5) or at an urgent care facility (40.8%; 95% CI, 39.4-42.3). Risk of long-term opiate use was highest for patients initially diagnosed by pain management/anesthesia (6.7%; 95% CI, 6.0-7.3) or physical medicine and rehabilitation (3.4%; 95% CI, 3.1-3.8) providers.

CONCLUSION:

Initial provider type influences early opiate prescription and long-term opiate use among opiate-naïve patients with newly diagnosed low back and lower extremity pain.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

3.

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