Do Opioids Help Injured Workers Recover and Get Back to Work? The Impact of Opioid Prescriptions on Duration of Temporary Disability
We estimate the effect of opioid prescriptions on the duration of temporary disability benefits among workers with work-related low back injuries. We use local opioid prescribing patterns to construct an instrumental variable that generates variation in opioid prescriptions but is arguably unrelated to injury severity or other factors directly affecting disability duration. Local prescribing patterns have a strong relationship with whether injured workers receive opioid prescriptions, including longer-term prescriptions. We find that more longer-term opioid prescribing leads to considerably longer duration of temporary disability, but there is little effect of a small number of opioid prescriptions over a short period of time.
We would like to thank Richard Butler, Frank Neuhauser, John Ruser, Vennela Thumula, and Dongchun Wang for helpful feedback and comments on this work. Helpful comments were also received from many practitioners, as well as at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Fall Conference and the American Economic Association Annual Meeting. Any errors or omissions remaining in this report are the responsibility of the authors. The views are our own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Workers Compensation Research Institute. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Bogdan Savych & David Neumark & Randall Lea, 2019. "Do Opioids Help Injured Workers Recover and Get Back to Work? The Impact of Opioid Prescriptions on Duration of Temporary Disability," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, vol 58(4), pages 549-590. citation courtesy of