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.
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.