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Survey finds doctor-patient communication gaps on dangers of opioids

May 4, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Survey results released last week by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids revealed differing perspectives from physicians and patients about the prescribing and management of potentially dangerous prescription opioids.

While an online survey of 360 opioid-prescribing physicians and 705 pain patients found that a strong majority of the prescribers believe they are primarily responsible for providing addiction-related information to patients, 40% of acute pain patients said no one had explained to them the potential link between prescription pain medication and dependence (this was also the case for 19% of chronic pain patients). Around half of pain management specialists and two-thirds of primary care physicians said they always give addiction-related information to their patients.

In addition, a majority of surveyed patients said they did not receive information about where to store medication or what to do with expired medication. Only 11% of chronic pain patients and 13% of acute pain patients reported having concern that someone else in their household might gain access to their medications.

“Education and dialogue among patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and the community are essential to build awareness on the responsible prescribing, use, storage and disposal of pain medication,” said Mark Trudeau, president and CEO of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, which with the American Academy of Pain Management and the American Cancer Society collaborated with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids on the survey. The research also involved an analysis of recorded conversations between providers and patients.

The survey also found that 60% of primary care doctors and 65% of pain management specialists consider themselves only somewhat prepared to identify individuals misusing opioids, with less than half of each group saying that medical school prepared them for this task.