The opioid epidemic continues and although some initiatives have shown promise in reducing the number of opiates prescribed, few studies have focused on education of general surgery patients about home storage and safe disposal. The purpose of this feasibility study was to explore the use of an online video intervention to prepare surgical patients to properly dispose of unused opioids.
Eligible patients undergoing elective general surgery between August and October 2019 were enrolled into this prospective randomized controlled feasibility study. Patients with reported opioid use preoperatively were excluded from the study. The control group followed usual care, and the intervention group received usual care plus a brief educational video guided by the theory of reasoned action describing safe storage and disposal practices of unused opioid pills. Measures were collected at baseline and 2 wk postoperatively.
A total of 40 participants were enrolled in the study; average age was 44.7 (range 21-75 y); most were Caucasian, educated, and employed. Recruitment took 11 wk, and the retention rate was excellent at 85%. Differences in opioid disposal were not significantly different by age, sex, education, or type of surgery. The video intervention was positively received, but the majority (80%) still stored their pills unsecured.
Results demonstrate that a video intervention addressing safe storage and disposal practices of unused opioids is feasible, and more research is needed to determine efficacy in increasing rates of secure storage and disposal of unused opioid pills.