Nevin Manimala Statistics

Opioid Prescriptions Prior to Emergency Department Dental Visits: A Comparison of Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (DPSAs) and Non-DPSAs Using Electronic Health Records

Inquiry. 2023 Jan-Dec;60:469580231218440. doi: 10.1177/00469580231218440.


Although prior research has linked dental conditions and opioid prescribing in the U.S., it is not yet known whether the receipt of opioid prescriptions prior to seeking emergency care for dental conditions differs in geographical areas that are underserved by health care professionals (Dental Professional Shortage Areas, DPSAs) compared to other areas. Using Indiana’s state-wide electronic health records from January 1, 2016 to October 31, 2020, we examine if patients from DPSAs presenting at the emergency department (ED) for dental conditions are more likely to have received opioid prescriptions in the 30 days prior to their visit, compared to patients from other areas. A higher rate of opioid receipt among DPSA individuals may indicate an association between lower availability of dental professionals and the use of opioids as a coping strategy. We note that our study design has several limitations (such as a lack of data on prescription use after the ED visit) and does not prove causation. We find that individuals experiencing dental condition ED visits in DPSAs are 16% more likely (than those in non-DPSAs) to have filled an opioid prescription in the 30 days prior to the ED visit, after controlling for age, gender, and race/ethnicity. This result is statistically significant at the 1% level. The baseline rate of opioid filling in the 30 days prior to the ED visit is 12% in DPSAs. These correlational results suggest that unmet dental needs might be substantially connected to opioid prescriptions, although further research is needed to establish whether this relationship is causal.

PMID:38142365 | DOI:10.1177/00469580231218440

By Nevin Manimala

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