Factors Related to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Queries for Veterans Receiving Long-Term Opioid Therapy

Pain Med. 2021 Jul 25;22(7):1548-1558. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnaa386.


Objective: State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) identify controlled medications dispensed across providers and systems. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy requires electronic health record documentation of PDMP queries at least annually for VA patients receiving controlled medications; however, queries are not uniformly conducted. We examined factors associated with PDMP queries for veterans receiving long-term opioid therapy.

Methods: Veterans with a VA provider who received long-term opioid therapy between August 2015 and August 2016 within a four-state region were identified; 9,879 were due for a PDMP query between August 2016 and February 2017. Likelihood of veterans' PDMP queries during this follow-up period was modeled as a function of patient, provider, and facility characteristics of interest in mixed-effects modified Poisson models estimating relative risk and 95% confidence intervals. Multivariable models controlled for potential confounders identified through the use of directed acyclic graphs.

Results: PDMP queries were documented for 62.1% of veterans that were due for a PDMP query. Veterans were more likely to be queried if they were Hispanic or if they received methadone, had average daily milligram morphine equivalents >20, or received urine drug screening during the studied period. Veterans were less likely to be queried if they had a rural address, mail order medication, or cancer diagnosis. Likelihood of PDMP queries was also lower for veterans whose opioid-prescribing provider was an oncologist or working in a low-complexity facility.

Conclusions: Adherence to PDMP query policy within the VA varied by patient, clinician, and facility factors. Mechanisms to standardize the conduct of PDMP queries may be needed.

Keywords: Opioids; Patient Safety; Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs; Veterans; VA Health Care System.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs*
  • Veterans*


  • Analgesics, Opioid