Race and Socioeconomic Status Affect Emergency Department Opioid Prescribing for Pain
Prior research suggests that factors besides pain—such as patient race and ethnicity—affect opioid prescribing for pain, but those studies have often not adjusted for socioeconomic status (SES). In this study, investigators examined the association between race, ethnicity, and neighborhood SES on prescription of an opioid during an emergency department (ED) visit for moderate or severe pain in the National Hospital Ambulatory Care Survey. During 4 years there were over 183 million visits and opioids were prescribed during 50,264 of them.
- Compared with patients living in areas with the highest SES, patients living in areas with the lowest SES were less likely to receive opioids (39% versus 49% when neighborhood poverty was >20%; 41% versus 47% when median income was <$33,000; and 43% versus 46% when <13 a="" bachelor="" degree="" held="" li="" s=""> 13>
- Black (39% versus 46% for white) and Hispanic (40% versus 45% for non-Hispanic) patients were less likely to receive opioids.
- All differences were significant in analyses adjusted for race, ethnicity, SES, sex, pain severity, injury, hospital type, past ED visits, and geography.