BACKGROUND: Long-term opioid use is a known risk factor for opioid-related harms. We aimed to identify risk factors for and predictors of long-term use of prescription opioids in the community-dwelling population of adults without a diagnosis of cancer, to inform practice change at the point of care. METHODS: Using Quebec administrative claims databases, we conducted a retrospective cohort study in a random sample of adult members (≥ 18 yr) of the public drug plan who did not have a cancer diagnosis and who initiated a prescription opioid in the outpatient setting between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2016. The outcome of interest was long-term opioid use (≥ 90 consecutive days or ≥ 120 cumulative days over 12 mo). Potential predictors included sociodemographic factors, medical history, characteristics of the initial opioid prescription and prescriber's specialty. We used multivariable logistic regression to assess the association between each characteristic and long-term use. We used the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve to determine the predictive performance of full and parsimonious models. RESULTS: Of 124 664 eligible patients who initiated opioid therapy, 4172 (3.3%) progressed to long-term use of prescription opioids. The most important associated factors in the adjusted analysis were long-term prescription of acetaminophen-codeine (odds ratio [OR] 6.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.99 to 7.96), prescription of a long-acting opioid at initiation (OR 6.02, 95% CI 5.31 to 6.84), initial supply of 30 days or more (OR 4.22, 95% CI 3.81 to 4.69), chronic pain (OR 2.41, 95% CI 2.16 to 2.69) and initial dose of at least 90 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.47). Our predictive model, including only the initial days' supply and chronic pain diagnosis, had area under the curve of 0.7618. INTERPRETATION: This study identified factors associated with long-term prescription opioid use. Limiting the initial supply to no more than 7 days and limiting doses to 90 MME/day or less are actions that could be undertaken at the point of care.
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