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      Opioids for chronic pain: a knowledge assessment of nonpain specialty providers

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          Although the majority of opioids in the US are prescribed by nonpain specialists, these providers often report inadequate training in chronic pain management and opioid prescribing. The extent of health care providers’ knowledge of opioid prescribing for chronic pain has not been well established. The purpose of this study was to assess knowledge about the use of opioids for chronic pain among health care providers seeking pain-focused continuing medical education.

          Materials and methods

          The study participants (n=131) were recruited at a pain-focused continuing medical education conference for nonpain specialists. Upon commencement of the conference, the KnowPain-50 survey was completed. The survey comprised 50 questions, and 18 questions were related to opioid management. The focus of each opioid question was further categorized as either medicolegal (n=7) or clinical (n=11).


          The majority of study participants were male physicians with a mean age of 51.8 years. The proportion of correct responses to the 50-item survey was 72%. The proportion of correct responses to the 32 nonopioid questions was 74%, and the proportion of correct responses to the 18 opioid questions was 69% ( P<0.001). Similarly, the proportion of correct responses to the seven medicolegal opioid questions was 74%, and the proportion of correct responses to the eleven clinical opioid questions was 67% ( P<0.001).


          Health care providers demonstrated gaps in knowledge about the use of opioids for chronic pain. Lower scores on clinically based opioid questions may indicate an opportunity to provide focused educational content about this area of practice. This information could be helpful in designing future educational modules for nonpain providers.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Clinical guidelines for the use of chronic opioid therapy in chronic noncancer pain.

          Use of chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain has increased substantially. The American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine commissioned a systematic review of the evidence on chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain and convened a multidisciplinary expert panel to review the evidence and formulate recommendations. Although evidence is limited, the expert panel concluded that chronic opioid therapy can be an effective therapy for carefully selected and monitored patients with chronic noncancer pain. However, opioids are also associated with potentially serious harms, including opioid-related adverse effects and outcomes related to the abuse potential of opioids. The recommendations presented in this document provide guidance on patient selection and risk stratification; informed consent and opioid management plans; initiation and titration of chronic opioid therapy; use of methadone; monitoring of patients on chronic opioid therapy; dose escalations, high-dose opioid therapy, opioid rotation, and indications for discontinuation of therapy; prevention and management of opioid-related adverse effects; driving and work safety; identifying a medical home and when to obtain consultation; management of breakthrough pain; chronic opioid therapy in pregnancy; and opioid-related policies. Safe and effective chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain requires clinical skills and knowledge in both the principles of opioid prescribing and on the assessment and management of risks associated with opioid abuse, addiction, and diversion. Although evidence is limited in many areas related to use of opioids for chronic noncancer pain, this guideline provides recommendations developed by a multidisciplinary expert panel after a systematic review of the evidence.
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            A flood of opioids, a rising tide of deaths.

             Susan Okie (2010)
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              Primary care provider concerns about management of chronic pain in community clinic populations.

              Chronic pain is a common patient complaint in primary care, yet providers and patients are often dissatisfied with treatment processes and outcomes. To assess provider satisfaction with their training for and current management of chronic pain in community clinic settings. To identify perceived problems with delivering chronic pain treatment and issues with opioid prescribing for chronic pain. Mailed survey to primary care providers (PCPs) at 8 community clinics. Respondents (N=111) included attendings, residents, and nurse practioners (NPs)/physician assistants (PAs). They reported 37.5% of adult appointments in a typical week involved patients with chronic pain complaints. They attributed problems with pain care and opioid prescribing more often to patient-related factors such as lack of self-management, and potential for abuse of medication than to provider or practice system factors. Nevertheless, respondents reported inadequate training for, and low satisfaction with, delivering chronic pain treatment. A substantial proportion of adult primary care appointments involve patients with chronic pain complains. Dissatisfaction with training and substantial concerns about patient self-management and about opioid prescribing suggest areas for improving medical education and postgraduate training. Emphasis on patient-centered approaches to chronic pain management, including skills for assessing risk of opioid abuse and addiction, is required.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                10 March 2016
                : 9
                : 129-135
                Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: W Michael Hooten, Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Charlton 1-145, Rochester, MN 55905, USA, Tel +1 507 266 9977, Email hooten.william@ 123456mayo.edu
                © 2016 Pearson et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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