A mixed-method analysis of reports on 100 cases of improper prescribing of controlled substances

James M. DuBois, John T. Chibnall, Emily E. Anderson, Michelle Eggers, Kari Baldwin, Meghan Vasher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Improper prescribing of controlled substances (IPCS) contributes to opioid addictions and deaths by overdose. Studies conducted to date have largely lacked a theoretical framework and ignored the interaction of individual with environmental factors. We conducted a mixedmethod analysis of published reports on 100 cases that occurred in the United States. An average of 17 reports (e.g., from medical boards) per case were coded for 38 dichotomous variables describing the physician, setting, patients, and investigation. A theory on how the case occurred was developed for each case. Explanatory typologies were developed and then validated through hierarchical cluster analysis. Most cases involved physicians who were male (88%), >40 years old (90%), non-board certified (63%), and in small private practices (97%); 54% of cases reported facts about the physician indicative of self-centered personality traits. Three explanatory typologies were validated. Increasing oversight provided by peers and trainees may help prevent improper prescribing of controlled substances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-472
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2016


  • Improper prescribing
  • Medical ethics
  • Mixed methods
  • Opioid abuse
  • Qualitative content analysis


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