Women More Likely to be Prescribed Opioids

Women are more likely to receive multiple opioid prescriptions, study finds.

Female patients are much more likely to be prescribed opioids than male patients, a recent data analysis published in the Journal of Women’s Health has found.

The rate of opioid-related morbidity and mortality has increased significantly in the United States. Certain groups of people are more likely to be prescribed opioids, according to the study, which means that the risk is unevenly distributed within a population. New data suggest that not only are women more likely than men to be prescribed opioids, they also receive more prescriptions per person.

The data were taken from the nationally representative “Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.” It included 106,233 individuals over the age of 18 years and were collected between 2005 and 2015. According to the study, 9387 women, or 16.2%, were prescribed opioids. This is significantly higher than the 5679, or 11.7%, of men.

However, the authors noted that the relationship was reduced when adjusted for sociodemographic and health-related factors. This can simply mean that women may simply make greater use of the health care system, according to the study.

"Our analysis found no evidence that the treatment of pain was driving women's higher rates of prescription opioids," study co-author Alicia Agnoli, MD, said in the press release.

Overall, patients receiving opioids were more likely to be older, white, of lower income, and live mainly in the Midwest and South regions, according to the study. Patients who were prescribed opioids also had a higher rate of nonopioid prescriptions and health expenditures.


Women significantly more likely to be prescribed opioids, study shows (News Release); New Rochelle, NY; June 29, 2020; EurekAlert!; Accessed June 30, 2020

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