NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Is There a Role for Physician Education?

Molly Schnell, Janet Currie

NBER Working Paper No. 23645
Issued in August 2017, Revised in November 2017
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Health Economics

Using national data on opioid prescriptions written by physicians from 2006 to 2014, we uncover a striking relationship between opioid prescribing and medical school rank. Even within the same specialty and practice location, physicians who completed their initial training at top medical schools write significantly fewer opioid prescriptions annually than physicians from lower ranked schools. Additional evidence suggests that some of this gradient represents a causal effect of education rather than patient selection across physicians or physician selection across medical schools. Altering physician education may therefore be a useful policy tool in fighting the current epidemic.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23645

 
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