The impact of opioid analgesic prescription uptake on the costs of recovery from injury: evidence from compensable orthopaedic road trauma patients

Youjin Hahn, Gemma Tiernan, Janneke Berecki-Gisolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Long-term opioid prescribing after compensable orthopaedic injury may contribute to the ‘long right tail’ in the cost of recovery. The aim of this study was to estimate the effect of prescription opioid uptake on injury compensation cost, using orthopaedic road traffic injury claims data from Victoria, Australia. We used a maximum likelihood estimation that accounts for potential endogeneity associated with opioid uptake, utilizing information on the doctor's differential propensity to prescribe opioids when treating other compensable injury patients. Our results suggest that opioid recipients incurred significantly greater hospital costs, income compensation payments, and medical and paramedical expenses. Overall, income compensation was the primary driver of the claim cost difference between opioid recipients and non-recipients. The findings imply that there is scope to impose restrictions on long-term opioid usage, and to encourage the use of alternative pain relief medicines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Compensation
  • Injury burden
  • Pain treatment
  • Road traffic injury

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