New AHRQ Report Shows Sharp Rise Among Women for Opioid-Related Hospital Stays

Substantial State-to-State Variation in the Age Group With the Highest Rate of Opioid-Related Hospitalizations

Press Release Date: June 20, 2017

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. A new AHRQ infographic illustrates the States in which opioid-related hospitalization rates were higher among women than men in 2014.
  • 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, 343 KB), 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.

AHRQ’s new report highlights the importance of other federal efforts to tackle the opioids crisis, which has been identified by the Trump Administration and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D., as one of the top priorities for improving the health of the American people.

"Secretary Price has made confronting the opioid crisis a key priority for the Department,” Khanna said.  AHRQ is glad to contribute to these efforts by strengthening our understanding of the opioid epidemic through better data and insights."

Additionally, in support of HHS’s opioids strategy, AHRQ is investing approximately $12 million in grants over three years to explore how best to deliver medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid abuse in rural areas. The funds will support ways to overcome barriers to the use of MAT, such as limited continuing training opportunities for prescribing physicians, negative perceptions about people with substance abuse disorders, negative expectations about the effectiveness of treatment and lack of social support services.

Other HHS agencies have made significant investments to fight the crisis, as well.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed guidelines for safe prescribing of opioids for chronic pain, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced an initiative to develop new types of pain medications, medications to treat addiction, and medicines to treat an opioid overdose.  Additionally, the recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act authorized the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA) to award $485 million in grants to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories and the free associated states of Palau and Micronesia for opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery.

Page last reviewed June 2017
Page originally created June 2017
Internet Citation: New AHRQ Report Shows Sharp Rise Among Women for Opioid-Related Hospital Stays. Content last reviewed June 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsroom/press-releases/women-opioid-related-hospital-stays.html