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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Florida: Examines Sex Differences in Prescription Opioid Use

A new University of Florida study finds that community-dwelling women are significantly more like to report using prescription opioids than men. While sex differences at the national level have been examined previously, the study is one of the first to evaluate these differences at the community level. The findings appear in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The UF study also found that prescription sedative use was the strongest risk factor for prescription opioid use, regardless of sex. This surprising finding is cause for concern, said lead author Dr. Mirsada Serdarevic, who conducted the study as part of her dissertation work in the PhD program in epidemiology at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and UF College of Medicine. The pharmacodynamics of opioids and sedatives change when they are taken together, increasing the risk of overdose.

“When considering the prevention of non-medical prescription opioids, clinicians should avoid co-prescribing opioids and sedatives and be vigilant about the comorbidities that may be present among individuals with pain,” said Dr. Serdarevic, now an assistant member in the Center for Outcomes Research at JPS Health Network in Fort Worth, Texas.

The team evaluated responses from more than 9,000 north central Florida residents who are members of UF HealthStreet, a Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) community engagement program.

Researchers found the overall past 30-day rate of prescription opioid use to be 14 percent, double the rate reported by a recent CDC study. Among male respondents, 33 percent reported lifetime but not past 30-day use of prescription opioids, with 12 percent reporting past 30-day use. Among women, 41 percent reported lifetime but not past-30 day prescription opioid use, with 15 percent reporting past 30-day use.

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