Introduction: Visits to the emergency department (ED) for use of illicit drugs and opioids have increased in the past decade. In the ED, little is known about how gender may play a role in drugrelated visits and referrals to treatment. This study performs gender-based comparison analyses of drug-related ED visits nationwide. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis with data collected from 2004 to 2011 by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). All data were coded to capture major drug categories and opioids. We used logistic regression models to find associations between gender and odds of referral to treatment programs. A second set of models were controlled for patient "seeking detox," or patient explicitly requesting for detox referral. Results: Of the 27.9 million ED visits related to drug use in the DAWN database, visits by men were 2.69 times more likely to involve illicit drugs than visits by women (95% CI [2.56, 2.80]). Men were more likely than women to be referred to detox programs for any illicit drugs (OR 1.12, 95% CI [1.02-1.22]), for each of the major illicit drugs (e.g., cocaine: OR 1.27, 95% CI [1.15-1.40]), and for prescription opioids (OR 1.30, 95% CI [1.17-1.43]). This significant association prevailed after controlling for "seeking detox." Conclusion: Women are less likely to receive referrals to detox programs than men when presenting to the ED regardless of whether they are "seeking detox." Future research may help determine the cause for this gender-based difference and its significance for healthcare costs and health outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine