Abstract for:Chronic Pain in Women Aged 45-54 and the Opioid Epidemic

Between 1999 and 2010, the drug overdose rate for women ages 45-54 increased by 202.8%, largely precipitated by the increase in the rate of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. which marked that time period (Mack K et al. 2013). Women between 45-54 years of age are at particular risk in the opioid epidemic because they are more likely to experience chronic pain, and are therefore more likely to receive opioid prescriptions. Implementing wide-spread practitioner use of evidence-based treatment practices (i.e. alternatives to opioid prescriptions) has the potential to reduce the proportion of this demographic suffering from an opioid use disorder. A system dynamics model is used to map the flow of patients from diagnoses of chronic pain to various treatments, the movement of physicians from prescribing opioids to using evidence-based practices, and the effect of this physician dynamic on different stocks of the demographic. Five plausible scenarios were tested to identify the most effective combination of policy levers in reducing opioid use disorder. Model results suggest that increasing affordability and accessibility of evidence-based treatment, as well as reducing the drop-off rate from this treatment, would have a significant impact in reducing opioid use disorder.