Prescribing rates of some analgesics decreased during the public health crisis. Yet, up to a quarter of opioid-naïve persons prescribed opioids for noncancer pain develop prescription opioid use disorder. We, therefore, sought to evaluate a pilot educational session to support primary care-based sparing of opioid analgesics for noncancer pain among opioid-naïve patients in British Columbia (BC).
Therapeutics Initiative in BC has launched an audit and feedback intervention. Individual prescribing portraits were mailed to opioid prescribers, followed by academic detailing webinars. The webinars’ learning outcomes included defining the terms opioid naïve and opioid sparing, and educating attendees on the (lack of) evidence for opioid analgesics to treat noncancer pain. The primary outcome was change in knowledge measured by four multiple-choice questions at the outset and conclusion of the webinar.
Two hundred participants attended four webinars; 124 (62%) responded to the knowledge questions. Community-based primary care professionals (80/65%) from mostly urban settings (77/62%) self-identified as family physicians (46/37%), residents (22/18%), nurse practitioners (24/19%), and others (32/26%). Twelve participants (10%) recalled receiving the individualized portraits. While the correct identification of opioid naïve definitions increased by 23%, the correct identification of opioid sparing declined by 7%. Knowledge of the gaps in high-quality evidence supporting opioid analgesics and risk tools increased by 26% and 35%, respectively.
The educational session outlined in this pilot yielded mixed results but appeared acceptable to learners and may need further refinement to become a feasible way to train professionals to help tackle the current toxic drugs crisis.

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