Background: Drug overdose deaths have been rising since the early 1990s and is the leading cause of injury death in the United States. Overdose from prescription opioids constitutes a large proportion of this burden. State policy and systems-level interventions have the potential to impact prescription drug misuse and overdose.
Methods: We searched the literature to identify evaluations of state policy or systems-level interventions using non-comparative, cross-sectional, before-after, time series, cohort, or comparison group designs or randomized/non-randomized trials. Eligible studies examined intervention effects on provider behavior, patient behavior, and health outcomes.
Results: Overall study quality is low, with a limited number of time-series or experimental designs. Knowledge and prescribing practices were measured more often than health outcomes (e.g., overdoses). Limitations include lack of baseline data and comparison groups, inadequate statistical testing, small sample sizes, self-reported outcomes, and short-term follow-up. Strategies that reduce inappropriate prescribing and use of multiple providers and focus on overdose response, such as prescription drug monitoring programs, insurer strategies, pain clinic legislation, clinical guidelines, and naloxone distribution programs, are promising. Evidence of improved health outcomes, particularly from safe storage and disposal strategies and patient education, is weak.
Conclusions: While important efforts are underway to affect prescriber and patient behavior, data on state policy and systems-level interventions are limited and inconsistent. Improving the evidence base is a critical need so states, regulatory agencies, and organizations can make informed choices about policies and practices that will improve prescribing and use, while protecting patient health.
Keywords: Evaluation; Opioids; Overdose; Pain; Policy; Prescribing.
Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.