, Academic Emergency Medicine, 2023 Mar 06
Racial and ethnic minorities receive opioid prescriptions at lower rates and dosages than White patients. Though opioid stewardship interventions can improve or exacerbate these disparities, there is little evidence about these effects. We conducted a secondary analysis of a cluster-randomized controlled trial conducted among 438 clinicians from 21 emergency departments and 27 urgent care clinics. Our objective was to determine whether randomly allocated opioid stewardship clinician feedback interventions that were designed to reduce opioid prescriptions had unintended effects on disparities in prescribing by patient race and ethnicity.
The primary outcome was likelihood of receiving a low-pill prescription (low ≤10 pills, medium 11–19 pills, high ≥20 pills). Generalized mixed-effects models were used to determine patient characteristics associated with low-pill prescriptions during the baseline period. These models were then used to determine whether receipt of a low-pill prescription varied by patient race or ethnicity during the intervention period between usual care and three opioid stewardship interventions: (1) individual audit feedback, (2) peer comparison feedback, and (3) combined (individual audit + peer comparison) feedback.
Compared with White patients, Black patients were more likely to receive a low-pill prescription during the baseline (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06–1.31,p= 0.002) and intervention (adjusted OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.07–1.91,p= 0.015). While combined feedback was associated with an overall increase in low-pill prescriptions as intended (adjusted OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.28–2.78,p= 0.001), there were no significant differences in treatment effects of any of the interventions by patient race and ethnicity.
Combined individual audit and peer comparison feedback was associated with fewer opioid pills per prescription equally by patient race and ethnicity. However, the intervention did not significantly close the baseline disparity in prescribing by race.