Linkage of VA and State Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Data to Examine Concurrent Opioid and Sedative-Hypnotic Prescriptions among Veterans.

Research paper by Kathleen F KF Carlson, Tess A TA Gilbert, Benjamin J BJ Morasco, Dagan D Wright, Joshua Van JV Otterloo, Aldona A Herrndorf, Lawrence J LJ Cook

Indexed on: 09 Aug '18Published on: 09 Aug '18Published in: Health Services Research


To examine the prevalence of concurrent Veterans Health Administration (VA) and non-VA prescriptions for opioids and sedative-hypnotic medications among post-9/11 veterans in Oregon. VA health care and prescription data were probabilistically linked with Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) data. This retrospective cohort study examined concurrent prescriptions among n = 19,959 post-9/11 veterans, by year (2014-2016) and by patient demographic and clinical characteristics. Veterans were included in the cohort for years in which they received VA outpatient care; those receiving hospice or palliative care were excluded. Concurrent prescriptions were defined as ≥1 days of overlap between outpatient prescriptions for opioids and/or sedative-hypnotics (categorized as benzodiazepines vs. non-benzodiazepines). Among 5,882 veterans who filled opioid or sedative-hypnotic prescriptions at VA pharmacies, 1,036 (17.6 percent) filled concurrent prescriptions from non-VA pharmacies. Within drug class, 15.1, 8.8, and 4.6 percent received concurrent VA and non-VA opioids, benzodiazepines, and non-benzodiazepines, respectively. Veteran demographics and clinical diagnoses were associated with the likelihood of concurrent prescriptions, as was enrollment in the Veterans Choice Program. A considerable proportion of post-9/11 veterans receiving VA care in Oregon filled concurrent prescriptions for opioids and sedative-hypnotics. Fragmentation of care may contribute to prescription drug overdose risk among veterans. © Health Research and Educational Trust.