White papers

As thought leaders, we pursue better, healthier, more sustainable outcomes. Here you’ll find research findings and analytical insights shared by the dedicated experts at Optum.


  • Examining and Mitigating Opioid-induced Side Effects

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    Workers' Compensation, Opioids, Chronic Pain

    ​November 2016
    Opioid analgesics are commonly prescribed to treat the pain associated with workers’ compensation and auto no-fault injuries. These medications have an important role in pain management treatment and therapy and may be effective for certain indications, including acute pain not relieved by non-opioid analgesics, pain associated with various types of fractures, and some post-surgical pain. Opioid analgesics may also be useful in treating chronic pain when there is evidence of improved pain control, improved level of function or an approved return to work. As with all medications, however, opioid analgesics carry risks, alongside their benefits, and their use may be associated with numerous and potentially serious side effects. Some of those more frequently occurring include sleep disturbance, hyperalgesia, constipation, nausea and vomiting or androgen deficiency. Click here to read more.


  • The Emerging Use of Naloxone

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    PDMPs, Addiction, Chronic Pain, Workers' Compensation, Opioids

    August 2016
    In an effort to reduce the epidemic number of overdose-related deaths and injuries associated with the misuse of opioid analgesics, many states have been looking to enact legislation to help curb this trend. One way states have tried to accomplish this is to establish prescribing quantity limits on opioid analgesics. They are also establishing guidelines on how and when opioids should be prescribed to treat acute and chronic pain. As regulatory reform is evolving, it is often mandating the review of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) by pharmacists and prescribers prior to prescribing and dispensing opioids. There is also increasing discussion, training, funding and access to medications, most notably naloxone, that can prevent death from overdose. Click here to read more.


  • Medication Agreements: Promoting awareness, dialogue and level-set expectations

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    Medication Agreements

    June 2016
    As medication agreements continue to gain acceptance in the medical community and their value in claims management increases, they should be considered a necessary treatment component for all injured workers receiving long-term prescription pain medications, especially opioid analgesics, to ensure the best possible outcomes. Click here to read more.


  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): The Risks and Benefits

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    NSAIDs

    November 2015
    Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are some of the most commonly used medications in workers’ compensation, accounting for 13.4% of all prescriptions and 10.7% of total spend in our 2015 drug trends report. As beneficial as NSAIDs are, there are risks when taking these medications, especially at higher doses or for extended periods. This paper explains the risks and benefits of this popular therapeutic class, as well as the best practice clinical approach to their utilization. Click here to read more.


  • Medical Marijuana: Friend or Foe of Workers' Compensation

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    Medical Marijuana

    November 2014 
    As states throughout the country are legalizing medical marijuana, the debate continues on its safety and efficacy in managing pain. Click here to read more.


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