Black patients on opioids receive more scrutiny than whites, study finds

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 23, 2011

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Physicians are more likely to employ opioid risk-reduction strategies with black patients than with white patients, said a study in the May/June issue of Annals of Family Medicine.

Black patients were 1.5 times likelier than white patients to have their refills restricted and 51% likelier to have regular office visits, even after adjusting for demographics, substance abuse history and other factors, said the study of more than 1,600 Philadelphia-area patients from 2004 to 2008 (link). The study found no racial disparity in physicians' use of urine drug screens, another strategy that pain specialists recommend doctors use when prescribing opioids to high-risk patients.

"Our results raise the concern that physicians are inappropriately lax in monitoring white patients," the study said. "This laxity contradicts evidence that the risk of prescription drug abuse is greater in whites than in other racial/ethnic groups."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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