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

March 16, 2012

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."

Explore further: Use of opioid painkillers for abdominal pain has more than doubled

Related Stories

Use of opioid painkillers for abdominal pain has more than doubled

November 29, 2011
Across U.S. outpatient clinics between 1997 and 2008, opioid prescriptions for chronic abdominal pain more than doubled, according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official journal of the American ...

Group Health establishes major initiative to prevent opioid abuse and overdose

August 4, 2011
Fatal overdoses involving prescribed opioids tripled in the United States between 1999 and 2006, climbing to almost 14,000 deaths annually—more than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined. Hospitalizations and emergency ...

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.