Nav: Home

How are chronic opioid use, 2016 presidential voting patterns associated?

June 22, 2018

Bottom Line: An analysis of Medicare claims data suggests chronic opioid use in U.S. counties corresponded with support for Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, with much of the correlation explained by socioeconomic factors.

Why The Research Is Interesting: Similarities have been observed in maps showing the geographic distribution of the opioid epidemic and the results of the 2016 presidential election. This study examined the association at the county level between the rate of Medicare Part D enrollees receiving prescriptions for prolonged opioid use and the percentage of votes for President Trump 2016 to explore the extent to which demographic and economic factors might explain it.

What and When: A national sample of Medicare claims data for more than 3.7 million enrollees in the Medicare prescription drug benefit

What (Study Measures and Outcomes): Chronic opioid use by county rate for receiving a 90-day or more supply of opioids prescribed in 2015

How (Study Design): This was an observational study. Researchers were not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control for all the natural differences that could explain the study results.

Authors: James S. Goodwin, M.D., of the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, and coauthors

Results: Support for Republican President Trump in 2016 explained about 18 percent of the variance in county rates of opioid use in 3,100 U.S. counties, with counties whose opioid prescription rates were above average having a higher average Republican vote than counties with opioid prescription rates below average. The association is related to underlying county socioeconomic characteristics related to income, disability, insurance coverage and unemployment.

Study Limitations: The 2016 county presidential vote would include all voters while information on prolonged opioid prescriptions from 2015 would include only Medicare Part D enrollees; the associations linking opioid use and voting are at the county, not individual, level.

Related Material: The invited commentary, "The Opiates and the (Voting) Masses" by James Niels Rosenquist, M.D., Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, also is available on the For The Media website.

To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0450)

Editor's Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
-end-
Want to embed a link to this study in your story?: Links will be live at the embargo time http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0450

About JAMA Network Open: JAMA Network Open is the new online-only open access general medical journal from the JAMA Network. Every Friday, the journal publishes peer-reviewed clinical research and commentary in more than 40 medical and health subject areas. Every article is free online from the day of publication.

JAMA Network Open

Related Opioid Articles:

Opioid use disorder in pregnancy: 5 things to know
Opioid use is increasing in pregnancy as well as the general population.
Opioid treatment for teens? Medications can help
Teens who misuse prescription or illicit opioids might benefit from opioid treatment medications, according to a new study led by a Yale researcher.
The 'inflammation' of opioid use
New research correlates inflammation in the brain and gut to negative emotional state during opioid withdrawal.
What we don't know about prenatal opioid exposure
'Will the baby be OK?' In cases of prenatal opioid exposure, the answer is unclear.
Does opioid maintenance treatment during pregnancy harm newborns?
A new Pharmacology Research & Perspectives study found no harm to newborns from opioid maintenance treatment (OMT) during pregnancy compared with no treatment.
More Opioid News and Opioid Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...