University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Prescribed Opioid Use in Wisconsin 2008-2016: Findings from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin

Tanvee Thakur, PhD, BPharm; Jodi H Barnet, MS; Tamara LeCaire, MS, PhD; Andrew Bersch, MS; Paul Peppard, MS, PhD; Kristen Malecki, PhD, MPH; D. Paul Moberg, PhD

WMJ. 2020;119(2):102-109.

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Background: The opioid epidemic is a national crisis. The objectives of this report were to describe prescription opioid use in Wisconsin from 2008 through 2016 using unique population-representative data and to assess which demographic, health, and behavioral health characteristics were related to past 30-day prescribed opioid use.

Methods: Data were obtained from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW), a statewide
representative sample of 4,487 adults. Prescription medication use was ascertained via in-person interviews that included an inventory of all prescription medications used by the respondent in the past 30 days. The data were weighted to represent the adult population of Wisconsin, aged 21 to 74. Chi-square, logistic regression, and descriptive statistics were used to analyze data.

Results: From 2008 to 2016, 6.4% (95% CI, 5.5-7.3) of adults age 21 years or older reported using a prescribed opioid in the past 30 days. Hydrocodone was the most prescribed opioid class followed by oxycodone. People 50 years of age and older, self-identified black or Hispanic, urban dwellers, those with a high school education or less, and those having incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) reported significantly higher rates of prescribed opioid use relative to others. Participants reporting physician-diagnosed drug or alcohol abuse, current smokers, and those currently suffering from depression also reported significantly higher use.

Conclusion: These data from 2008-2016 demonstrate concerning levels of prescription opioid use and provide data on which population groups may be most vulnerable. While policies and clinical practice have changed since 2016, ongoing evaluation of prescribing practices, including consideration of behavioral health issues when prescribing opioids, is called for.

Author Affiliations: University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy, Madison, Wis (Thakur); Survey of the Health of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wis (UW SMPH) (Barnet, LeCaire, Bersch, Malecki); Population Health Sciences, UW SMPH, Madison, Wis (Peppard, Malecki); Population Health Institute, UW SMPH, Madison, Wis (Moberg).
Corresponding Author: D. Paul Moberg, PhD, Research Professor and Senior Scientist, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 610 Walnut St, 885 WARF Building, Madison, WI 53726; phone 608.263.1304; email; ORCID ID 0000-0002-7475-7909.
Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank the University of Wisconsin Survey Center; SHOW administrative, field, and scientific staff; and all the SHOW participants for their contributions to this study.
Funding/Support: Funding for the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) was provided by the Wisconsin Partnership Program PERC Award (233 PRJ 25DJ), the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (5UL RR025011), and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (1 RC2 HL101468). Awards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U17-CE002741) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (U79-SP020781), via the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, provided partial support of Dr Moberg’s participation in this effort.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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