Addressing the opioid epidemic: Is there a role for physician education?

Molly Kathleen Schnell, Janet Currie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Using national data on opioid prescriptions written by physicians from 2006 to 2014, we uncover a striking relationship between opioid prescribing and medical school rank. Even within the same specialty and practice location, physicians who completed their initial training at top medical schools write significantly fewer opioid prescriptions annually than physicians from lower-ranked schools. Additional evidence suggests that some of this gradient represents a causal effect of education rather than patient selection across physicians or physician selection across medical schools. Altering physician education may therefore be a useful policy tool in fighting the current epidemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-410
Number of pages28
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • General practitioner
  • Medical school rank
  • Opioid
  • Prescribing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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