Blacks Screened More Often Than Whites for Opioid Misuse

More regular office visits and restricted early refills for black patients treated with opioids

THURSDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Black patients on opioid analgesics for chronic noncancer pain are significantly more likely to receive recommended opioid risk reduction strategies than white patients, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

William C. Becker, M.D., from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues evaluated the differences in recommended strategies used by 1,612 black (62.1 percent) and white patients with chronic noncancer pain to reduce opioid misuse risk. Three opioid risk reduction strategies used by physicians for patients on opioid analgesics for at least three months were assessed: urine drug testing, regular office visits (at least once every six months and within 30 days of opioid change), and restricted early opioid refills (avoiding refills more than one week early). The results were adjusted for clustering within physicians, and other variables.

The investigators found that black patients were significantly more likely to receive urine drug testing (10.4 versus 4.1 percent), regular office visits (56.4 versus 39.0 percent), and restricted early refills (79.4 versus 72.0 percent) than whites. After adjusting for variables, compared to whites, blacks had significantly higher odds of receiving regular office visits (odds ratio [OR], 1.51) and restricted early refills (OR, 1.55), but not urine drug testing.

"In this large cohort of primary care patients treated for an average of two years with opioid analgesics for chronic noncancer pain, black patients were significantly more likely to receive recommended opioid risk reduction strategies than white patients," the authors write.

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