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Menopausal Symptoms and Higher Risk Opioid Prescribing in a National Sample of Women Veterans with Chronic Pain.

Gibson CJ, Li Y, Huang AJ, Rife T, Seal KH. Menopausal Symptoms and Higher Risk Opioid Prescribing in a National Sample of Women Veterans with Chronic Pain. Journal of general internal medicine. 2019 Oct 1; 34(10):2159-2166.

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Abstract:

BACKGROUND: The greatest increases in long-term opioid use and opioid-related overdose mortality in recent years have been among women in midlife. Common menopausal symptoms broadly affect health and health care utilization in midlife, but their contribution to chronic pain management during this period is unknown. OBJECTIVE: To examine relationships between menopausal symptoms and long-term opioid prescription patterns among midlife women with chronic pain. DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of national Veterans Health Administration medical and pharmacy records (2014-2015). PARTICIPANTS: Women Veterans aged 45-64 with 1 outpatient visit and chronic pain diagnoses spanning 90 days. MAIN MEASURES: Long-term opioids (prescribed oral opioids for 90 days), high-dose long-term opioids ( > 50 mg average morphine equivalent daily dose), and long-term opioids co-prescribed with central nervous system depressants (benzodiazepine and non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics, gabapentin/pregabalin, muscle relaxants). Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine associations between outcomes and menopausal symptoms (menopausal symptom-related diagnoses (i.e., "symptomatic menopausal states") on 2 encounters and/or menopausal hormone therapy, adjusting for race, age, body mass index, and mental health and substance use disorder diagnoses. KEY RESULTS: In this national sample of 104,984 midlife women Veterans with chronic pain (mean age 54.5, SD 5.4 years), 17% had evidence of menopausal symptoms, 51% were prescribed long-term opioids, 13% were prescribed high-dose long-term opioids, and 35% were co-prescribed long-term opioids and central nervous system depressants. In multivariable analyses, women with menopausal symptoms had increased odds of long-term opioids (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.18-1.26), high-dose long-term opioids (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.02-1.13), and long-term opioids co-prescribed with central nervous system depressants (sedative-hypnotics OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.22-1.30; gabapentin/pregabalin OR 1.23, 95% CI 1.20-1.27; muscle relaxants OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.20-1.28). CONCLUSIONS: Among midlife women Veterans with chronic pain, evidence of menopausal symptoms was associated with potentially risky long-term opioid prescription patterns, independent of known risk factors.





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