Patients in the most rural counties had an 87 percent greater chance of receiving an opioid prescription from their primary care provider between January 2014 and March 2017 than patients in large metropolitan areas, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescribing rates were higher in rural than urban counties throughout the study period, but decreased across all rural and urban categories after the CDC released its guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain in March 2016. “As less densely populated areas indicate both progress in decreasing opioid prescribing and need for ongoing reduction, tailoring community health care practices and intervention programs to community characteristics will remain important,” the authors said. The findings are based on electronic health record data from a sample of primary care providers. For AHA resources to help hospitals and health systems address the opioid epidemic, including a recently updated toolkit, visit www.aha.org.

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