The Causes and Consequences of Opioid and Benzodiazepine Use Among Older Americans: A Panel Survey Approach

Published: 2020
Project ID: UM20-14


The proposed research will identify the causes and disability consequences of prescription opioid and benzodiazepine use among Americans older than 50, including the role of state prescription drug policies in the use and effects of these drugs. These drug classes are generally prescribed for chronic pain or mental health conditions, while musculoskeletal diseases and mental disorders comprise the majority of Social Security Disability Insurance recipients. This study thus aims to measure the extent to which the large increase in opioid prescribing in the last 20 years, and the subsequent health impacts from widespread opioid use and interactions with other drugs, have affected the disabled population. We will draw on the soon-to-be-released prescription drug information in the 2009 Health and Well-Being module in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which includes measures of prescription drug initiation and use by individuals over the age of 50. The long-panel structure of the HRS, and the local variation in both drug supply and drug demand policy, will enable us to estimate the predictors of drug use and the resulting impacts on functional impairments, disablement, and disability program participation.