Association of current and past opioid use disorders with health-related quality of life and employment among US adults

Taeho Greg Rhee, Robert A Rosenheck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: To examine the association of current and past Opiate Use Disorder (OUD) with measures of HRQOL and employment in a nationally representative sample of adults.

METHODS: The 2012-2013 National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III (NESARC III) surveyed a nationally representative sample of non-institutionalized civilian adults (≥18 years) in the US (n = 36,309 unweighted). Using DSM-5 criteria, adults without history of OUD were compared to those with current and past OUD. Using the SF-12 items, standard measures of the mental and physical component scores of HRQOL and of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were constructed. Employment in the past year (yes/no) was also assessed. Multivariable-adjusted regression analyses were used to adjust for covariates.

RESULTS: Overall, 0.9% of the study sample, representing 2.1 of 235.4 million adults, met criteria for current OUD; 1.2%, representing 2.7 million adults, met criteria for past OUD. Adults with current or past OUD had large and moderately reduced mental component (MCS) and physical health component (PCS) summary scores compared to adults who never had OUD (p < 0.001, respectively). Current OUD was associated with lower odds of being employed compared to never experiencing OUD (Adjusted odds ratio = 0.65; 95% CI: 0.48, 0.88; p = 0.005), as was past OUD. Adjustment for potentially confounding factors reduced the independent association of OUD and HRQOL by about 40-50% but did not change employment comparisons.

CONCLUSION: Adults with current OUD are associated with large reductions in HRQOL and likelihood of not being employed, and adults with past OUD also have considerable residual impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Rhee received funding support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ( #T32AG019134 ). The funding agency, NIH, had no role on this intellectual contribution from the study conception to journal publication. Publicly available data were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Analyses, interpretation, and conclusions are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Division of Health Interview Statistics or NCHS of the CDC.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Employment
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Quality of life


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