Trends in rates of prescription opioid-related deaths across Canada

Project number: 
Approval date: 
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Principal Investigator: 
University of British Columbia (UBC)
Funding Agency: 
Not Available
Datasets requested: 
MSP Registration & Premium Billing(BC Ministry of Health)
consolidation - census geocodes
Deaths (BC Vital Statistics Agency)
Consolidation - demographic (Ministry of Health)
Consolidation registry (Ministry of Health)
Research objective: 


a) To estimate population-adjusted rates of opioid-related deaths annually by province (our site will study BC data only) and age group.

b) To estimate the prevalence of receipt of a legitimate opioid prescription prior to an opioid-related death among provinces with prescription data available for all residents.


a) The rate of opioid-related deaths will have increased considerably across all provinces over our study period.

b) There will be considerable differences in these rates between provinces that may be driven by both their overall use of opioids and the choice of individual long acting and short-acting forms of the drugs. Specifically, there will be a correlation between the increase in total exposure of provincial populations to prescription opioids (expressed as morphine mg equivalents/1000 population) and the increase in opioid-related deaths observed in these provinces.

c) Opioid-related death rates will differ by age group, sex, and socio-economic status (SES). In particular, we hypothesize that death rates will be higher in men and those with lower SES. It is anticipated that death rates will be highest in young and middle-aged adults.

Page last revised: January 21, 2020