Introduction: Our goal was to describe variation in procedural benzodiazepine and post-vasectomy nonopioid pain and opioid prescription dispense events, and multilevel factors associated with the probability of an opioid refill.
Methods: Patients (40,584) undergoing vasectomies in the U.S. Military Health System between January 2016-January 2020 were included in this observational retrospective study. The main outcome was the probability of being dispensed an opioid prescription refill within 30 days post-vasectomy. Bivariate analyses examined the relationships between patient- and care-level characteristics, prescription dispense and 30-day opioid prescription refill. A generalized additive mixed-effects model and sensitivity analyses examined factors associated with opioid refill.
Results: There was wide variation in procedural benzodiazepine (32%) and post-vasectomy nonopioid (71%) and opioid (73%) prescription dispense patterns across facilities. Only 5% of the patients dispensed opioids received a refill. Probability of an opioid refill was associated with race (White), younger age, opioid dispense history, documented mental health or pain condition, lack of post-vasectomy nonopioid pain medication dispense events and higher dispensed post-vasectomy opioid prescription dose; albeit the effect of dose did not replicate in sensitivity analyses.
Conclusions: Despite the wide variation in vasectomy-related pharmacological pathways across a large health care system, most patients do not require an opioid refill. Significant variation in prescribing practices indicated racial inequities. Given the low rates of opioid prescription refill, combined with the wide variation in opioid prescription dispense events and American Urological Association recommendations for conservative opioid prescribing after vasectomy, intervention to address excessive opioid prescribing is warranted.
Keywords: analgesics, non-narcotic; analgesics, opioid; anti-anxiety agents; health equity; vasectomy.