- 2020;23;1-6Prescription Drugs and the US Workforce: Results from a National Safety Council Survey
Alaa Abd-Elsayed, MD, Mathew Fischer, MD, Jonathan Dimbert, MS, and Kenneth James Fiala, BS.
BACKGROUND: The cost of chronic pain in the United States is extremely high. Opioids are one of the most common medications prescribed for the treatment of chronic pain, and their misuse and addiction have been of concern. It has been found that opioids are frequently abused and negatively impact the American workforce.
OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to obtain data on US employers’ concerns and priorities, perceptions of prescription drug abuse, perceived impact of prescription drug use on the workplace, identification of and response to drug abuse, perceived ability to handle prescription drug abuse in the workplace, and workplace initiatives, employee assistance programs, employee drug testing, workplace prescription drug training, insurance coverage of alternative treatment, and overall preparedness to deal with the issue.
STUDY DESIGN: This research used an employer proprietary questionnaire created by members of the National Safety Council in cooperation with market research experts at B2B International.
SETTING: Employers surveyed via an online survey represent diverse industries and geographical areas.
METHODS: The research was conducted using a proprietary questionnaire. Participants were recruited from a sample of verified panelists through Research Now, and fieldwork was conducted online by B2B International. This report is on 501 interviews that each represent a US employer with 50 or more employees. The employers sampled are extremely diverse in not only size and industry, but also geography and centralization.
RESULTS: Our results showed that 67% of employers reported concerns related to prescription drug misuse, which was comparable to workplace violence and more concerning than the use of illegal drugs. Sixty-one percent reported concerns related to prescription opioids, which was a higher concern than using anti-anxiety medications, stimulants, and even heroin.
LIMITATIONS: Survey study with descriptive analysis with limited sample.
CONCLUSIONS: Prescription drug misuse and abuse concern American employers. Their side effects are clear, but employers are less likely to acknowledge their detrimental business effect. Employers report being unprepared for dealing with issues related to this; however, the firms with programs in place feel more prepared to deal with misuse and abuse.
KEY WORDS: Prescription drugs, US workforce, chronic pain