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Variation in Clinical Characteristics and Longitudinal Outcomes in Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder Diagnosis Codes.

Powell VD, Macleod C, Sussman J, Lin LA, Bohnert ASB, Lagisetty P. Variation in Clinical Characteristics and Longitudinal Outcomes in Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder Diagnosis Codes. Journal of general internal medicine. 2023 Feb 1; 38(3):699-706.

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BACKGROUND: Patterns of opioid use vary, including prescribed use without aberrancy, limited aberrant use, and potential opioid use disorder (OUD). In clinical practice, similar opioid-related International Classification of Disease (ICD) codes are applied across this spectrum, limiting understanding of how groups vary by sociodemographic factors, comorbidities, and long-term risks. OBJECTIVE: (1) Examine how Veterans assigned opioid abuse/dependence ICD codes vary at diagnosis and with respect to long-term risks. (2) Determine whether those with limited aberrant use share more similarities to likely OUD vs those using opioids as prescribed. DESIGN: Longitudinal observational cohort study. PARTICIPANTS: National sample of Veterans categorized as having (1) likely OUD, (2) limited aberrant opioid use, or (3) prescribed, non-aberrant use based upon enhanced medical chart review. MAIN MEASURES: Comparison of sociodemographic and clinical factors at diagnosis and rates of age-adjusted mortality, non-fatal opioid overdose, and hospitalization after diagnosis. An exploratory machine learning analysis investigated how closely those with limited aberrant use resembled those with likely OUD. KEY RESULTS: Veterans (n = 483) were categorized as likely OUD (62.1%), limited aberrant use (17.8%), and prescribed, non-aberrant use (20.1%). Age, proportion experiencing homelessness, chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and non-opioid substance use disorders differed by group. All-cause mortality was high (44.2 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 33.9, 56.7)). Hospitalization rates per 1000 person-years were highest in the likely OUD group (831.5 (95% CI 771.0, 895.5)), compared to limited aberrant use (739.8 (95% CI 637.1, 854.4)) and prescribed, non-aberrant use (411.9 (95% CI 342.6, 490.4). The exploratory analysis reclassified 29.1% of those with limited aberrant use as having likely OUD with high confidence. CONCLUSIONS: Veterans assigned opioid abuse/dependence ICD codes are heterogeneous and face variable long-term risks. Limited aberrant use confers increased risk compared to no aberrant use, and some may already have OUD. Findings warrant future investigation of this understudied population.

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