Doctor Shopping and High-Risk Use of Opioid Prescriptions in Arkansas

Authors: Sean G Young*, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Jonathan Aram, Arkansas Department of Health, Corey Hayes, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Mark Tait, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: medical geography, opioids, doctor shopping
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States is a critical public health emergency. "Doctor shopping" behavior as used here refers to prescription opioid recipients who travel long distances in order to obtain prescriptions for opioids that may not be medically justified. Other high-risk uses include prescriptions for more than 90 morphine equivalents per day, and overlapping prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines or muscle relaxants. Using data from the Arkansas Prescription Monitoring Program, we evaluate the geographic variations in opioid prescribing and usage behaviors across the state of Arkansas. Doctor shopping behavior is evaluated by examining travel distance from recipient to prescriber, taking into account both the average travel distance for all recipients from the same region and the number of opioid prescribers the recipient bypasses to reach their prescriber of choice. Odds ratios demonstrate that recipients who engage in doctor shopping behavior are more likely to engage in other high-risk use.

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