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Goldstick JE, Guy GP, Losby JL, Baldwin GT, Myers MG, Bohnert ASB. Patterns in Nonopioid Pain Medication Prescribing After the Release of the 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. JAMA Network Open. 2022 Jun 1; 5(6):e2216475.
Importance: In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the evidence-based Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. How the release of this guideline coincided with changes in nonopioid pain medication prescribing rates remains unknown. Objective: To evaluate changes in nonopioid pain medication prescribing after the 2016 CDC guideline release and to assess the heterogeneity in these changes as a function of patient demographic and clinical characteristics. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study constructed 7 (4 preguideline and 3 postguideline) annual cohorts using claims data from the national Optum Clinformatics Data Mart Database for the period January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2018. The cohorts included adults with commercial insurance, no cancer or palliative care claims, and 2 years of continuous insurance enrollment. Individuals could qualify for inclusion in multiple cohorts. Each cohort covered a 2-year period, with year 1 as the baseline period used to calculate opioid exposure and other clinical characteristics and year 2 as the follow-up period used to calculate prescribing outcomes. Data were analyzed in March 2022. Exposures: The CDC guideline, which was released in March 2016. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was receipt of any nonopioid pain medication prescriptions (analgesics or antipyretics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) during the follow-up period. This postguideline prescribing pattern was compared with estimates based on the preguideline prescribing pattern, and then the differences were stratified by patient clinical characteristics (chronic pain, recent opioid exposure, substance use disorder, anxiety disorder, and mood disorder). Results: A total of 15?879?241 individuals (2015 mean [SD] age, 50.2 [18.6] years; 8 298 271 female patients [52.3%]) qualified for inclusion in 1 or more cohorts. Logistic regression models showed that nonopioid pain medication prescribing odds were higher by 3.0% (95% CI, 2.6%-3.3%) in postguideline year 1, by 8.7% (95% CI, 8.3%-9.2%) in postguideline year 2, and by 9.7% (95% CI, 9.2%-10.3%) in postguideline year 3 than the preguideline pattern-based estimates. The magnitude of the postguideline departures from the preguideline pattern varied by several clinical characteristics (chronic pain, recent opioid exposure, anxiety disorder, and mood disorder). The largest departure was found among those with chronic pain, with postguideline prescribing being higher than estimated in postguideline year 2 (13.6%; 95% CI, 12.7%-14.6%) and postguideline year 3 (14.9%; 95% CI, 13.8%-16.0%). Conclusions and Relevance: Results of this study showed increases in nonopioid pain medication prescribing after the release of the 2016 CDC guideline, suggesting that the guideline may be associated with an increase in guideline-concordant care, but additional studies are needed to understand the role of other secular changes in the opioid policy landscape and other sources of nonopioid medication use.