Outpatient healthcare utilization and prescribing patterns for herpes zoster in United States adults

Partik Singh, Nanette B. Silverberg, Jonathan I. Silverberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Little is known about health resource utilization and treatment patterns for herpes zoster (HZV) after the introduction of HZV virus vaccination. The objective of this study is to characterize trends in HZV utilization, racial disparities, and treatment patterns in the United States. Data from the 1993–2015 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey were analyzed, including 15,400,000 weighted primary acute HZV visits in adults. Overall, the weighted frequency (95% confidence interval) of HZV visits increased from 1993–1998 to 2007–2015 (1,269,815 [565,455–1,974,175]–8,017,911 [6,424,491–9,611,331], P = 0.0001). HZV visits were associated with African–American (38.8% [35.8–41.7%] vs. 8.2% [7.4–9.0%]) and Hispanic race/ethnicity (12.6% [6.6–18.5%] vs. 8.0% [7.3–8.5%]), public insurance (42.7% [36.6–49.2%] vs. 33.7% [32.2–35.2%]) in comparison with all other visits. Oral antiviral agents were prescribed in 64.3% (58.1–70.1%) of HZV visits. HZV visits were associated with higher rates of opioid prescriptions compared to all other visits (18.4% [14.0–23.9%] vs. 6.1% [5.6–6.6%], P < 0.0001). The limitation is no data on HZV severity. HZV visits increased over time, even after introduction of HZV vaccines. There were significant racial/ethnic and healthcare disparities of, and high rates of opiate and corticosteroid prescriptions at HZV visits. Future efforts are needed to address these practice gaps, and encourage vaccination and evidence-based prescribing in HZV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-162
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Dermatological Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Herpes zoster virus
  • Shingles
  • Utilization


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