Study determines critical skills for PCPs to safely manage opioid risk in chronic pain patients

Primary care physicians are faced with treating a large proportion of chronic pain patients, but many do not often have specific training in the assessment and management of chronic pain, including the use of opioid medications for chronic pain management. Recognizing the significant role prescribers can play in reducing the risk of addiction, unintentional overdose, and death from the misuse and abuse of opioids, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made prescriber education a central part of its Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) requirements for manufacturers of long-acting and extended-release (LA/ER) opioids.

With this in mind, Inflexxion's study investigated 1) what skills and training are considered to be needed for PCPs to prescribe opioids safely and effectively to patients with chronic pain, 2) what education would physicians find most relevant to clinical practice, and 3) what would resonate with them most.

The full report of this study, "Identifying Primary Care Skills and Competencies in Opioid " was published in the Fall 2011 issue of The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions.

Inflexxion researchers interviewed a panel of 16 nationally-known experts in primary care, pain management, and addiction about the knowledge and competencies they believed were most important for treating chronic pain safely and effectively in a primary care setting. Their responses were collated and analyzed using an online concept mapping program, which offers an innovative method of summarizing and prioritizing qualitative data.

Results showed the impressions of what skills PCPs thought their colleagues needed most, and those that pain and addiction specialists believed PCPs should have, diverged. While both groups agreed that the most important area for education was how to manage pain patients with , PCPs were more concerned that their peers learn things like understanding aberrant drug-related behavior, how to monitor compliance to therapy, and how to ensure safe and appropriate prescribing of opioids than the specialists. Specialists placed greater emphasis on PCPs learning how to formulate a treatment plan, having a general understanding of chronic pain management, and being able to teach medication safety to patients.

" treat a high proportion of patients but often lack training about how to assess and address issues associated with prescribing opioids when they are an appropriate component of therapy. The result may be that they could avoid treating these patients, which can lead to an under treatment of pain," says Kevin Zacharoff, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs for Inflexxion and co-author of this study. "As pharmaceutical manufacturers and educators move forward on developing educational programs with the goal of meeting concerns about the safe use of opioids, understanding the skills and competencies needed in can have a tremendous positive impact on public health."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

Aug 31, 2014

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

User comments