Disparities by Sex and Race and Ethnicity in Death Rates Due to Opioid Overdose among Adults 55 Years or Older, 1999 to 2019

Maryann Mason*, Rebekah Soliman, Howard S. Kim, Lori Ann Post

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Importance: Rates of opioid overdose deaths are increasing for older adults. Less is known about these deaths compared with those of younger adults. Objective: To analyze rate variation among opioid overdose deaths in older adults by sex and by race and ethnicity over time. Design, Setting, and Participants: This 21-year longitudinal cross-sectional study of adults who died due to opioid overdose at 55 years or older stratified by sex and by race and ethnicity used data from the Multiple Cause of Death database from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research. The data include all opioid overdose deaths among this age group that occurred between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2019 (N = 79893). Exposures: Sex and racial and ethnic groups. Main Outcomes and Measures: Rates of opioid overdose deaths per 100000 population by sex and by race and ethnicity for persons 55 years or older. Results: During the period 1999 to 2019, 79893 US residents 55 years or older died due to an opioid overdose. Among these individuals, 79.97% were aged 55 to 64 years, and 58.98% were men. Annual numbers of deaths increased over time from 518 in 1999 to 10292 in 2019. Annual rates of opioid overdose deaths per 100000 persons 55 years or older increased over time and ranged from 0.90 in 1999 to 10.70 in 2019. Substantial variation by sex and by race and ethnicity was found. In 2013, rates among non-Hispanic Black men began to diverge from those of other demographic subgroups. By 2019, the opioid overdose fatality rate among non-Hispanic Black men 55 years or older was 40.03 per 100000 population, 4 times greater than the overall opioid overdose fatality rate of 10.70 per 100 000 for persons of the same age. Conclusions and Relevance: In this longitudinal cross-sectional study of US adults who died due to opioid overdose, the burden of opioid overdose deaths among older adults since 2013 was most concentrated among non-Hispanic Black men. Deaths among non-Hispanic Black men were disproportionality represented in the overall increase in the rate of opioid overdose deaths among older adults. Further research is needed to inform policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2142982
JournalJAMA network open
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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