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Rurality impacts pain care for female veterans similarly to male veterans.

Hadlandsmyth K, Driscoll MA, Mares JG, Au V, Miell KR, Lund BC. Rurality impacts pain care for female veterans similarly to male veterans. The Journal of rural health : official journal of the American Rural Health Association and the National Rural Health Care Association. 2022 Feb 16.

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PURPOSE: Rural disparities exist in access to multidisciplinary pain care with higher rates of opioid prescribing in rural regions. Among Veterans, who have prevalent rates of chronic pain, women often evidence complex presentations, multiple comorbidities, and dissatisfaction with care. This study investigates the impact of rurality on pain care for women specifically, and whether this varies from the impact of rurality for men. METHODS: A cohort of Veterans with chronic pain in 2018 was built utilizing VA administrative data. Variables of interest included: demographic, comorbidities, medications, and health care utilization for chronic pain. FINDINGS: The cohort included 2,261,030 Veterans; 11% (n = 248,977) were women. Significantly fewer women (7%) compared to men (10.7%) received long-term opioids (adjusted OR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.75-0.78). Men, relative to women, were also more likely to receive gabapentinoids and nonsteroidal ant-inflammatory drugs, whereas women, relative to men, were more likely to receive muscle relaxants and duloxetine. Women were more likely to receive most psychiatric medications. Rural women received more primary care visits compared to urban women (adjusted OR = 1.19, 95% CI: 1.15-1.22), but fewer women''s clinic visits (a subset of primary care visits: adjusted OR = 0.69, 95% CI:0.67-0.71) and fewer pain specialty care visits (physical therapy, pain clinic, and mental health visits with pain codes). Rural effects did not vary substantially between women and men. CONCLUSIONS: Rural-dwelling Veterans received more pain and psychiatric medications compared to urban Veterans and fewer specialty care visits. Rural Veterans may benefit from increased access to specialty chronic pain care.

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