Hospitalizations involving opioid pain relievers and heroin increased 75 percent for women between 2005 and 2014, a jump that significantly outpaced the 55-percent increase among men, according to a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Because of the accelerated rates among women during that 10-year period, women and men were hospitalized at virtually the same rate nationwide in 2014 – about 225 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to AHRQ’s analysis.
“As the report makes clear, over the past decade, opioid abuse has affected both sexes and all age groups,” said AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna. “The crisis, however, looks different in different places. AHRQ’s data can help frontline providers, researchers and policymakers know more about the trends and patient characteristics among people being hospitalized or visiting the ED because of opioids, and plan interventions accordingly.”
AHRQ’s report, which provides the most current national rates on opioid-related hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits, also includes data that illustrate wide variation by state. Among those findings:
- In 2014, opioid hospitalization rates among women were highest in West Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. Each of those states reported rates exceeding 350 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
- Among men, the highest hospitalization rates in 2014 were in the District of Columbia, New York and Maryland, each of which reported rates higher than 440 hospitalizations per 100,000.
- The lowest hospitalization rates for both men and women were in Iowa and Nebraska.
- Men were more likely to make opioid-related visits to emergency departments in 2014, though ED visit rates increased sharply for both sexes between 2005 and 2014.
- The age-group most likely to have an opioid-related hospitalization varied substantially across states. In 13 states, including California, people 65 years old and older were the most likely to be hospitalized.
- In all states reporting on opioid-related visits to emergency departments, the rate was highest among adults age 25-44 years.
AHRQ’s new data are summarized in “Patient Characteristics of Opioid-Related Inpatient Stays and Emergency Department Visits Nationally and by State, 2014” (pdf), a statistical brief from the agency’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP).
The data in AHRQ’s report are drawn from the agency’s Fast Stats, a database that displays national and state health statistics The online resource includes overall trends in opioid-related hospital stays and emergency department visits as well as breakdowns by age, sex, community-level income and urban versus rural residency. More than 40 states contribute to the Fast Stats website.