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Sex differences in prescription opioid use

Serdarevic, Mirsada; Striley, Catherine W.; Cottler, Linda B.

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2017 - Volume 30 - Issue 4 - p 238–246
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000337
ADDICTIVE DISORDERS: Edited by John B. Saunders and Linda B. Cottler
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Purpose of review Recent literature focused on prescription opioids has neglected sex differences in use. Here, we evaluated the recent literature (since 2015) examining sex differences in prescription opioid use.

Recent findings Between 2015 and 2016, our review found only eight articles addressing sex differences in prescription opioid use mostly opioid misuse in North America among individuals with chronic pain. Risk factors included depression, pain, and polydrug use. In addition to that review, we had the opportunity to further address sex differences in, and risk factors for, prescription opioid use through a community engagement program, HealthStreet. Among the sample (n = 8525, Mage = 43.7 years, 58.6% women), approximately half reported use of prescription opioids. Women were significantly more likely to report lifetime use (54.9 vs. 42.2%; P < 0.0001) and report cancer compared with men, yet, women with cancer had a significantly reduced risk of using opioids compared with men with cancer (odds ratio: 0.46; 95% confidence interval, 0.36–0.59).

Summary Only a few recently published studies analyzed sex differences related to prescription opioid use. Findings from the literature and our data suggest women are more likely to use prescription opioids compared with men. There is limited information on sex differences in opioid use risk factors and outcomes and more research in this area is warranted.

Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health and Health Professions, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA

Correspondence to Mirsada Serdarevic, Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health and Health Professions, College of Medicine, University of Florida, 2004 Mowry Road, PO Box 100231, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA. Tel: +1 352 294 5953; fax: +1 352 273 5365; e-mail: mserdarevic@ufl.edu

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