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Risk Factors for Symptoms of Prescription Opioid Misuse: Do Older Adults Differ from Younger Adult Patients?

Cochran G, Rosen D, McCarthy RM, Engel RJ. Risk Factors for Symptoms of Prescription Opioid Misuse: Do Older Adults Differ from Younger Adult Patients?. Journal of gerontological social work. 2017 Aug 1; 60(6-7):443-457.

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Limited research is available regarding the health risks associated with opioid medication misuse among middle age (50-64 years) and older adults (65 and older). Understanding the misuse symptom risk profiles of these populations has potential to advance the national opioid epidemic response. A survey was conducted in four community pharmacies in southwestern Pennsylvania among adult, non-cancer patients filling opioid medications (N  =  318) regarding opioid medication misuse symptoms and misuse risk factors. Descriptive and multivariate statistical analyses compared respondent characteristics, misuse symptoms, and misuse risks among those 65 and older, 50 to 64, and those less than 50 years old. Those 65 and older (Incidence Rate Ratio [IRR]  =  2.4, 95% CI  =  1.46-3.95) and those 50 to 64 years (IRR  =  1.26, 95% CI  =  1.03-1.54) who reported illicit drug use had increased rates of misuse symptoms. Those 50-64 with posttraumatic stress disorder also had an increased rate of misuse symptoms (IRR  =  1.29, 95% CI  =  1.08-1.54). Misuse behaviors of those 65 and older and 50-64 involved shortening time between dosages ( = 65  =  11.4%, 50-64  =  27.6%), taking higher dosages than prescribed ( = 65  =  11.4%, 50-64  =  13.6%), and early refills ( = 11.8%, 50-64  =  12.7%). Gerontological social workers must continue to work to understand and identify individuals engaged in misuse in order to develop and provide age appropriate care.

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