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Comparison of opioid-related deaths by work-related injury

Authors

  • Dr. Melissa Cheng MD, MHS, MOH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational, Environmental Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah
    • 391 Chipeta Way Suite C, Salt Lake City, UT 84108.
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  • Brian Sauer PhD,

    1. Health Science Research and Development at the Salt Lake City VA IDEAS Center and Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
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  • Erin Johnson MPH,

    1. Bureau of Epidemiology, Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City, Utah
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  • Christina Porucznik MPH, PhD,

    1. Division of Public Health in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah
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  • Kurt Hegmann MD, MPH

    1. Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah
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    • Director of the Rocky Mountain Center.


  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.

Abstract

Objective

To infer whether work-related injuries may impact opioid-related deaths.

Methods

Descriptive comparisons were done using data from the Utah Department of Health, the Office of Medical Examiners, and the Labor Commission on all Utah residents who died from opioid-related deaths from 2008 to 2009.

Results

The majority of decedents (145 of 254, 57%) had at least one prior work-related injury. Demographics were similar regardless of work injury status. However, lack of high school diploma (18% vs. 7%, P < 0.001), prevalence of mental illness (50% vs. 15%, P < 0.001), tobacco (61% vs. 12%, P < 0.001), alcohol (87% vs. 28%, P < 0.001), and illicit drug (50% vs. 4%, P < 0.001) use were all substantially higher than the background population.

Conclusion

A detailed history and screening for mental illness and substance abuse, including tobacco use, among injured workers may be helpful in avoiding potential opioid-related deaths. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:308–316, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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