Objective: To examine whether veterans who received chronic opioid therapy had worse diabetes performance measures than patients who did not receive opioids.
Study design: Retrospective cohort study.
Methods: We identified all patients with diabetes mellitus receiving care in US Department of Veterans Affairs facilities during 2004. Cases received at least 6 prescriptions for chronic opioids during 2004, while controls were randomly selected from among patients with diabetes who received no opioids. We compared process measures (glycosylated hemoglobin and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels tested and an eye examination performed) and outcome measures (glycosylated hemoglobin level < or =9.0% and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level < or =130 mg/dL) between groups.
Results: Cases (n = 47,756) had slightly worse diabetes performance measures than controls (n = 220,912) after adjustment for covariates. For example, 86.4% of cases and 89.0% of controls had a glycosylated hemoglobin test during fiscal year 2004 (adjusted odds ratio, 0.69; P <.001). Among cases, receipt of higher-dose opioids was associated with additional decrement in diabetes performance measures, with a dose-response relationship.
Conclusions: Chronic opioid therapy among patients within the Veterans Affairs system is associated with slightly worse diabetes performance measures compared with patients who do not receive opioids. However, patients receiving higher dosages of opioids had additional decrements in diabetes performance measures; these patients may be appropriate targets for interventions to improve their care for pain and diabetes.