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Opioid dose and risk of road trauma in Canada: a population-based study


Background — Use of opioids may predispose drivers to road trauma, yet the effect of opioid dose on this association is unknown.

Methods — The researchers conducted a population-based nested case-control study of patients aged 18 to 64 years who received at least one publicly funded prescription for an opioid from April 1, 2003, through March 31, 2011. Cases were defined as having an emergency department visit related to road trauma. Patients without road trauma served as a control group matched to cases by age, sex, index year, prior road trauma, and a disease risk index. The researchers compared the risk of road trauma among patients treated with doses of opioids ranging from very low to very high (<20 to ≥200 morphine equivalents daily). In a subgroup analysis, the researchers stratified our analysis by driver status.

Results — Among 549,878 eligible adults, the researchers identified 5300 cases with road trauma and matched an equal number of controls. Multivariate adjustment yielded no significant association between escalating opioid dose and odds of road trauma (adjusted odds ratio ranged between 1.00 and 1.09). However, a significant association between opioid dose and road trauma was observed among drivers. Compared with very low opioid doses, drivers prescribed low doses had a 21% increased odds of road trauma (adjusted odds ratio, 1.21 [95% CI, 1.02–1.42]); those prescribed moderate doses, 29% increased odds (1.29 [1.06–1.57]); those prescribed high doses, 42% increased odds (1.42 [1.15–1.76]); and those prescribed very high doses, 23% increased odds (1.23 [1.02–1.49]).

Conclusions — Among drivers prescribed opioids, a significant relationship exists between drug dose and risk of road trauma. This association is distinct and does not appear with passengers, pedestrians, and others injured in road trauma.



Gomes T, Redelmeier DA, Juurlink DN, Dhalla IA, Camacho X, Mamdani MM. JAMA Intern Med. 2013; 173(3):196-201.

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