Rural patients 87% more likely to receive opioid prescriptions

Americans living in rural areas are far more likely to receive an opioid prescription than individuals living in big cities, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published Jan. 18.

For the report, researchers analyzed deidentified EHR prescription data from athenahealth. The report includes information on 31,422 primary care providers serving about 17 million patients between January 5, 2014, and March 11, 2017.

Four report findings:

1. Overall, the nation saw a decrease in opioid prescriptions after the CDC issued new prescribing guidelines for chronic pain in 2016.

2. In most rural counties, patients were 87 percent more likely to receive an opioid prescription than people living in large urban areas.

3. In March 2017, only 5 percent of patients in urban counties said they received an opioid prescription in the last year, compared to 9 percent of patients in rural counties.

4. Among all patients included in the analysis, 7.4 percent received an opioid prescription in 2014. In 2016, this figure dropped to 6.4 percent.

More articles on opioids: 
50 states ranked by opioid overdose death rates
How a reverse motion detector helps a Boston physician save lives
Drug payments to physicians linked to more overdose deaths, study finds

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