A one-time education program regarding safe, responsible opioid prescribing for clinicians prescribing these medications for the management of acute pain may improve their knowledge and confidence effectively and may increase guideline adherence, according to a study published in Pain Medicine.

All credentialed clinicians who prescribe opioids at the University of Washington (n=167) were requested to complete an educational program on safe and responsible opioid prescribing. Six months after completing the program, clinicians were asked to complete an online survey regarding their perception of improvements in knowledge and perceived competence in managing opioids for acute pain as well as on the impact of the use of 3 guidelines in clinical practice.

The online education program was associated with greater perceived improvement in participants’ knowledge and perceived competence. Improved knowledge regarding how to create a safe opioid taper plan, safe initiation of opioid therapy in patients with acute pain, and knowledge about the discrepancies between short- and long-acting opioids were found to be associated with increased self-reported likelihood of consulting the Prescription Monitoring Program (P =.003), greater use of multimodal analgesia (P =.022), and reduced duration of opioids prescribed for acute pain (P =.016). Improved understanding about constructing a safe opioid taper plan was associated with increased perceived competence (P =.002).

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“Increased access to a wide range of opioid prescribing educational material is needed for prescribing clinicians and trainees who care for patients with acute, perioperative, and chronic pain,” the researchers noted.


Langford DJ, Gross JB, Doorenbos A, Tauben DJ, Loeser JD, Gordon DB. Evaluation of the impact of an online opioid education program for acute pain management [published online January 25, 2019]. Pain Med. doi:10.1093/pm/pny300

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor