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The Journal of Gerontology reports that the poorest of the elderly are the most likely to receive prescription opioids.
Little research on opioid use has focused specifically on older adults, despite their relatively high rates of opioid use and chronic pain.
The study included 3,721 participants from the Health and Retirement Study's 2005-06 Prescription Drug Study. The found that low wealth was a strong, consistent predictor of opioid use.
Both pain level and Medicaid coverage significantly, but only partially, explained this association. There were no significant associations between education and use of NSAIDs or opioids.
Opioid-related policies should take into account socioeconomic contributors to opioid use, and the needs and treatment histories of chronic pain patients.