3 care practices can help lower mortality among patients with opioid use disorder, study finds

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Three quality interventions proved effective in reducing deaths among patients with opioid use disorder in a new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence

For the retrospective cohort study, researchers examined the association between seven quality measures and the mortality rates of more than 30,000 patients with opioid use disorder treated in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system between October 2006 and September 2007.

Analysis revealed patients who received psychosocial counseling, participated in quarterly visits with a physician or were not further prescribed opioids or anxiety medications had a 4 to 6 percent lower death rate over a one-year period than patients who did not receive such interventions.

"This is a very large drop in mortality and we need to conduct more research to see if these findings hold up in other patient care settings," said lead author Katherine Watkins, MD, a physician scientist at the nonprofit research organization RAND. "But our initial findings suggest that these quality measures could go a long way toward improving patient outcomes among those who suffer from opioid addiction."

More articles on opioids: 
Michigan physicians wrote 11M opioid prescriptions in 2016: 5 things to know 
STAT projection: Opioid overdoses could kill more than 650k Americans in the next 10 years 
Alaska lawmakers pass bill to limit opioid pills prescribed

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