Association Between Opioid Prescriptions and Non-US-Born Status in the US

Fernando A. Wilson, Kavita Mosalpuria, Jim P. Stimpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Importance: Overdose from opioids causes nearly 50 000 deaths in the US each year. Adverse consequences from opioid use are particularly pronounced among low-income and publicly insured individuals. However, little is known about patterns of opioid prescribing among non-US-born individuals in the US. Objective: To examine the association of opioid prescriptions with non-US-born status, particularly among patients clinically diagnosed with pain. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional analysis assessed opioid prescriptions among US-born and non-US-born adults using the 2016-2017 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Data were analyzed from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2017. Main Outcomes and Measures: Practitioner-verified binary variable for any opioid prescription, number of prescriptions received, and a count variable for number of days of prescribed medicine. Multivariable logistic and negative binomial regression adjusted for sex, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, educational level, poverty, insurance status, clinical diagnoses for acute or chronic pain, census region, and survey year. Results: Among all 48 162 respondents (mean [SD] age, 47.0 [18.1] years; 25 831 [53.6%] female), 14.2% of US-born and 7.0% of non-US-born individuals received at least 1 opioid prescription within a 12-month period. For those diagnosed with chronic pain, 25.5% of US-born individuals and 15.6% of non-US-born individuals received at least 1 opioid prescription within a 12-month period. In multivariable logistic regression, non-US-born individuals had 35% lower odds of receiving an opioid prescription than US-born individuals (adjusted odds ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.56-0.74). In negative binomial regression adjusting for confounding factors, non-US-born individuals with chronic pain who were prescribed opioids received significantly fewer days' supply (50.0; 95% CI, 40.0-59.9) than US-born individuals (77.2; 95% CI, 72.7-81.6). Differences between US-born and non-US-born individuals were not statistically significant for patients with acute pain (16.7% [95% CI, 14.9%-18.4%] of US-born individuals received opioids vs 12.5% [95% CI, 9.3%-15.6%] of non-US-born individuals). Non-US-born individuals with less than 5 years of residency in the US were significantly less likely to receive a prescription for opioids than were those with longer residency after adjustment for type of pain and other confounding factors (adjusted odds ratio, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.30-0.88). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings suggest that non-US-born individuals, particularly those with shorter US residency, are less likely to be prescribed opioids than US-born individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e206745
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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