Identifying opioid prescribing patterns for high-volume prescribers via cluster analysis
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Identifying opioid prescribing patterns for high-volume prescribers via cluster analysis

  • Published Date:

    February 16 2019

  • Source:
    Drug Alcohol Depend. 197:250-254
  • Language:
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  • Alternative Title:
    Drug Alcohol Depend
  • Description:
    Objective: Despite recent decreases in opioid prescribing rates, evidence suggests there is substantial variation in the way opioids are prescribed by providers. This study aims to identify patterns in high-volume opioid prescribing. Methods: We conducted partitioning-around-medoids cluster analysis using the IQVIA Prescriber Profile dataset, including the number of opioid prescriptions filled at US retail pharmacies aggregated at the prescriber-level from July 2016 through June 2017. Clustering was used to identify prescription patterns within a sample of 10,000 high-volume opioid prescribers (defined as the top 10% of prescribers by number of opioid prescriptions during the 12-month period). Clustering variables included prescription counts by opioid type, and prescriber specialty, age, and region. Results: Family medicine (32%), internal medicine (23%), and orthopedics (11%) were the most common highvolume prescribing specialties. Across specialties, hydrocodone and oxycodone were the most-frequently prescribed opioid types. Thirty-five clusters of prescribers were obtained, consistently comprised of a single majority specialty and region. All majority high-prescribing specialties were represented in Southern clusters, indicating consistently high volume opioid prescribing across specialties in the region. Prescribing patterns varied by drug type and region - across every Northeastern cluster, oxycodone prescribing was higher than hydrocodone. While clusters of pain medicine specialists had the highest median total prescriptions, emergency medicine specialist clusters had some of the lowest. Conclusions: These results provide a clearer picture of current patterns among high-volume prescribers, who accounted for almost two-thirds of all opioid prescriptions. In light of the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic, this knowledge is critical for prevention activities.
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