Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Patterns of Opioid Prescribing and Predictors of Chronic Opioid Use in an Industrial Cohort, 2003 to 2013

Pensa, Mellisa, A., MD, MPH; Galusha, Deron, H., MS; Cantley, Linda, F., PT, MS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2018 - Volume 60 - Issue 5 - p 457–461
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001231

Objective: To appreciate the impact of the opioid epidemic in workers, we described opioid prescription patterns in a US industrial cohort over a 10-year period and assessed predictors of chronic prescription.

Methods: A multiyear (2003 to 2013) cross-sectional analysis of employer-sponsored health care claims for enrolled workers (N: 21,357 to 44,769) was performed.

Results: The proportion of workers prescribed opioids nearly doubled in the 10-year period. The strongest predictor of chronic opioid prescribing was year, with an increase in prescriptions each year from 2003 to 2013 (odds ratio = 2.90, 95% confidence interval: 2.41 to 3.48). Additional predictors included older age, white race, hourly wage, low back pain, and osteoarthritis.

Conclusions: Opioid prescribing for industrial workers substantially increased from 2003 to 2013. Occupational health professionals should be aware of the potential for chronic opioid use among workers to assess job safety and appropriate treatment of work-related injuries.

Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

Address correspondence to: Mellisa A. Pensa, MD, MPH, Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program, E.S. Harkness A, Second Floor, 367 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06510 (

M.P. was supported by a National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) training grant (T03- OH008607) during the period the research was conducted. She is currently an instructor in the Yale School of Medicine and Associate Director of the Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program. She has no potential conflicts of interest.

D.G. and L.C. were supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (Disease, Disability and Death in an Aging Workforce, NIH/NIA, 2R01 AG026291 11A) and from the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (Occupational Exposure to PM2.5 and Cardiovascular Disease [CVD], NIOSH, 5R01 009939 06). They have no potential conflicts of interest.

The study sponsor had no role in the study design, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, writing the report, or the decision to submit the report for publication.

M.P., D.G., and L.C. have no financial disclosures.

Supplemental digital contents are available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine