To test the relationship between the supply of select nonpharmacologic providers (physical therapy (PT) and mental health (MH)) and use of nonpharmacologic services among older adults with a persistent musculoskeletal pain (MSP) episode.
Claims data from a 5 percent random sample of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled fee‐for‐service (2007‐2014) and the Area Health Resource File (AHRF).
This retrospective study used generalized estimating equations to estimate the association between the county nonpharmacologic provider supply and individual service use with opioid prescriptions filled during Phase 1 (first three months of an episode) and Phase 2 (three months following Phase 1).
Data sources/study setting
We identified beneficiaries (>65 years) with ≥2 MSP diagnoses ≥90 days apart and no opioid prescription six months before the first pain diagnosis ( = 69 456). Beneficiaries’ county characteristics were assigned using the AHRF.
About 13.9 percent of beneficiaries used PT, 1.8 percent used MH services, and 10.7 percent had an opioid prescription during the first three months of a persistent MSP episode. An additional MH provider/10 000 people/county [aOR: 0.97, 95% CI: 0.96‐0.98] and PT/10 000 people/county [aOR: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.97‐1.00] was associated with lower odds of filling an opioid prescription in Phase 1. An additional MH provider/10 000 people/county [aOR: 0.97, 95% CI: 0.96‐0.98] and PT use in Phase 1 [aOR: 0.62, 95% CI: 0.58‐0.67] were associated with lower odds of filling an opioid prescription in Phase 2. The associations between the supply of providers and nonpharmacologic service use in Phase 1 and Phase 1 opioid prescriptions significantly differed by metropolitan and rural counties (‐value: .019).
Limited access to nonpharmacologic services is associated with opioid prescriptions at the onset of a persistent MSP episode. Initiating PT at the onset of an episode may reduce future opioid use. Strategies for engaging beneficiaries in nonpharmacologic services should be tailored for metropolitan and rural counties.
Data collection/extraction methods