The misuse and abuse of opioids has become a serious public health threat in the United States. The state of California has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic, with a noticeable increase in opioid-related fatalities and hospitalizations. This brief report paper aims to contribute to the growing literature by conducting a geospatial analysis of opioid dispensing patterns in California in 2021. The primary objective was to identify areas characterized by high-risk opioid dispending patterns and explore possible contributing factors. This retrospective study analyzed data from over 7 million records of opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions dispensed by outpatient pharmacies in California in 2021. A series of generalized linear regression models was employed to assess the impact of neighborhood characteristics on opioid recipients and high-risk opioid dispensing. The study defined high-risk opioid dispensing behavior as: (1) multiple provider episodes, (2) overlapping opioid prescriptions for seven or more days, (3) overlapping opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions for seven or more days, and (4) a high standardized dosage of opioid prescriptions per month. The study identified variables associated with high-risk opioid dispensing behaviors, including age, population density, income, and housing-related variables, as well as marital status and family-related variables. The study uncovered that there are noticeable disparities in opioid dispensing among different racial and ethnic groups within California. The findings indicated a correlation of high-risk dispensing indicators with certain demographic and socioeconomic factors. There was a substantial regional variation in opioid dispensing practices, with certain rural areas having higher rates of opioid prescriptions than urban areas.
Lu, H.; Zheng, J.; Wang, Y. Geospatial Analysis of Opioid Dispensing Patterns in California: A 2021 Real-World Study. Healthcare 2023, 11, 1732. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11121732
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