Evaluation of sex disparities in opioid use among ED patients with sickle cell disease, 2006–2015

Taneisha T. Wilson*, Shih Chuan Chou, Sara Becker, Jeremiah D. Schuur, Francesca Beaudoin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Acute pain from a vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) is a leading reason patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) visit the emergency department (ED). Prior studies suggest that women and men receive disparate ED treatment for acute pain in EDs. We aim to determine sex differences in analgesic use among patients with SCD presenting to the ED. Methods: This cross-sectional study uses data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), 2006–2015. We identified ED patients with a primary diagnosis of SCD. Among patients with SCD, we evaluated sex differences in the use of opioid analgesia using logistic regression (adjusting for patient and visit characteristics). Analyses accounted for survey design and weighting. Results: When evaluating the effect of sex on any opioid medication use in this population, though not significant, the odds that male patients were prescribed opioids was 1.5 (95% CI 0.8–2.8) times that of female patients after adjusting for age, the reason for visit, region, insurance status, and pain score. There was no significant difference in pain scores between male patients, 8.1 (95% CI 7.55–8.68) compared to female patients, 7.4 (95% CI 6.7–8.12). Conclusions: In this nationally representative sample of ED visits among patients with SCD, there was no conclusive evidence of sex disparities in opioid prescribing. Though there is evidence of a trend signaling that male patients with SCD were more likely than female patients to be prescribed an opioid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-601
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Opioid use
  • Sex differences
  • Sickle cell disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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