Year: 2016 Source: Translational Behavioral Medicine.(2016).6(4):605–612. SIEC No: 20160592

This study provides an example of how healthcare system-wide progress in implementation of opioid-therapy guideline recommendations can be longitudinally assessed and then related to subsequent opioid-prescribed patient health and safety outcomes. Using longitudinal linear mixed effects analyses, we determined that in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system (n = 141 facilities), over the 4-year interval from 2010 to 2013, a key opioid therapy guideline recommendation, urine drug screening (UDS), increased from 29 to 42 %, with an average within-facility increase rate of 4.5 % per year. Higher levels of UDS implementation from 2010 to 2013 were associated with lower risk of suicide and drug overdose events among VA opioid-prescribed patients in 2013, even after adjusting for patients’ 2012 demographic characteristics and medical and mental health comorbidities. Findings suggest that VA clinicians and healthcare policymakers have been responsive to the 2010 VA/Department of Defense (DOD) UDS treatment guideline recommendation, resulting in improved patient safety for VA opioid-prescribed patients.

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