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Health care needs, older adults, opioid use disorders



  1. Baumann, Steven L. RN, PhD, GNP, PMHNP (Professor and Nurse Practitioner)


Background: There is a growing number of opioid use disorders (OUDs) and overdose deaths in older adults. In addition, older adults with OUD routinely receive lower-quality preventive and chronic care that result in poorer overall health.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify older patients with OUD at the study site and determine the prevalence of medical and psychiatric comorbidities.


Methodology: This retrospective study used a computer algorithm employed by a network of Federally Qualified Health Center primary care clinics in lower New York state. With the approval from institutional review board, the IT department of the organization captured data about older adults with an OUD diagnosis. The IT department identified 664 patients and provided anonymized demographic and medical history data of these patients for analysis.


Results: Patients with OUD had 2-3 times more medical and psychiatric co-occurring conditions than national sample of older adults with no OUD of similar age and income. The most frequent co-occurring medical conditions in the patients were heart or circulatory disorders, movement disorders, respiratory disorders, pain disorders, nutritional disorders, and metabolic disorders. The most common co-occurring psychiatric conditions were anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder.


Conclusions: Older adults with OUD often have complex health care needs that often include one or more chronic medical and psychiatric conditions.


Implications: Providers should be aware of the multiple needs of older adults with OUD so that appropriate and comprehensive care can be offered to the patients.