Context: Over 68,000 deaths were attributed to opioid-related overdose in 2020. Evaluative studies have shown that states that utilized Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) systems have decreased opioid-related deaths. With the growing use of PDMPs and an ongoing opioid epidemic, determining the demographics of physicians at risk of overprescribing can elucidate prescribing practices and inform recommendations to change prescribing behaviors.
Objectives: This study aims to assess prescribing behaviors by physicians in 2021 based on four demographics utilizing the National Electronic Health Record System (NEHRS): physician’s age, sex, specialty, and degree (MD or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine [DO]).
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of the 2021 NEHRS to determine the relationship between physician characteristics and PDMP use on opioid-prescribing behaviors. Differences between groups were measured via design-based chi-square tests. We constructed multivariable logistic regression models to assess the relationships, via adjusted odds ratios (AOR), between physician characteristics and alternate prescribing patterns.
Results: Compared to female physicians, male physicians were more likely to alter their original prescription to reduce morphine milligram equivalents (MMWs) prescribed for a patient (AOR: 1.60; CI: 1.06–2.39; p=0.02), to change to a nonopioid/nonpharmacologic option (AOR: 1.91; 95 % CI: 1.28–2.86; p=0.002), to prescribe naloxone (AOR=2.06; p=0.039), or to refer for additional treatment (AOR=2.07; CI: 1.36–3.16; p<0.001). Compared to younger physicians, those over the age of 50 were less likely to change their prescription to a nonopioid/nonpharmacologic option (AOR=0.63; CI: 0.44–0.90; p=0.01) or prescribe naloxone (AOR=0.56, CI: 0.33–0.92; p=0.02).
Conclusions: Our results showed a statistically significant difference between specialty category and frequency of prescribing controlled substances. After checking the PDMP, male physicians were more likely to alter their original prescription to include harm-reduction strategies. Optimizing the use of PDMP systems may serve to improve prescribing among US physicians.