Data sources regarding the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids in the United States

Teresa Schmidt, Amanuel Zimam, Alexandra Nielsen, Wayne Wakeland

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7175/rhc.v5i1.883

Abstract

Objective: Recent increases in the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids and the adverse outcomes associated with them have stimulated a large amount of research and data collection on this public health problem. Systematic organization of the available data sources is needed to facilitate ongoing research, analysis, and evaluation. This work offers a systematic categorization of data sources regarding the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids in the United States.

Methods: A list of keywords regarding the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids was used to conduct systematic searches in PubMed®. Filtration of search results generated 92 peer-reviewed academic articles, published between January 1995 and April 2012, as well as a number of primary data sources. Lists of topics were developed independently by two researchers which were later compared and consolidated. All sources were then categorized according to their relevance to each of these topics and according to their capacity for geographical and longitudinal trend analysis.

Results: Tables cataloging data sources can be used to identify data relevant to specific topics in diversion, nonmedical use, and adverse outcomes associated with pharmaceutical opioids, and they illustrate global trends in data coverage, identifying several topics that have minimal data. A network diagram illustrates global trends in data coverage, showing variation among sources in the number of topics they cover, as well as variation among topics in the number of sources that cover them.

Conclusions: The categorization of data sources is hoped to facilitate ongoing research, analysis, and evaluation of this public health problem by serving as a guide for researchers, policy makers, and others who seek data regarding the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids in the United States.

Keywords

Pharmaceutical opioids, Data sources; Nonmedical use

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