Opioid use and dosing in the workers' compensation setting. A comparative review and new data from Ohio

Am J Ind Med. 2012 Apr;55(4):313-24. doi: 10.1002/ajim.21021. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


Background: Many authorities are concerned about the rising use and the potential overuse of opioid pain medications. A study of opioid prevalence and dosage in Ohio's workers' compensation (WC) system was conducted, with comparisons made to opioid use in other WC and non-WC settings.

Methods: Systematic literature reviews of WC and non-WC opioid use and dosage nationally were conducted. Two years of Ohio WC data (2008-2009) were analyzed to determine average daily morphine equivalent dose (MED), opioid costs, pharmacies used per claimant, and extent of long-duration cases.

Results: Nearly one-fifth (19.2%) of Ohio WC claims involved opioid use, compared to 31.8% in other WC systems and 17.9% in non-WC settings. Mean MED was 57.5 mg, compared to 47.8 mg in other WC systems, and 41.8 mg among non-WC populations. Nearly 10% of WC claims involved relatively high MED exceeding 120 mg/day.

Conclusion: Policy makers need to develop strategies for addressing high opioid use in WC systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / economics
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Pain / economics
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Occupational Diseases / economics
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / economics
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Workers' Compensation / economics*
  • Workers' Compensation / trends


  • Analgesics, Opioid