Calling All Physicians: Patients Fear Opioid Addiction and Want More Info


Patients are not only confused about opioid use, but they also fear developing an addiction and crave more information from physicians.

Patients are not only confused about opioid use, but they also fear developing an addiction and crave more information from physicians.

After 3 trained professionals conducted open-ended interviewers with 23 patients, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania were able to identify common themes related toopioids dosage and dependency.

“It was interesting to find that patients believe that taking an opioid as prescribed prevents the possibility of addiction, but also that patients are learning about opioids from television and from friends and acquaintances — not healthcare providers,” senior author Zachary F. Meisel, MD, MPH, MS, said in a news release.

Each patient had been seen at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania during a 4-month span in 2014. They were later discharged after being treated for pain-related issues such as broken bones, kidney stones, and musculoskeletal back injury.

Through the conversations, the researchers were able to establish several themes. Consisting of mostly women between the ages of 18 and 65, the patients:

  1. Feared developing dependence or addiction to opioids
  2. Worried about following the prescription dosage correctly to prevent addiction
  3. Relied on media and other people for information on the drug
  4. Recognized the need for physicians to balance pain management and safe prescription guidelines

“There’s clearly a significant need for emergency departments to improve education around the risks of opioid misuse,” Meisel said.

Published on Annals of Emergency Medicine, patients expressed the desire for more communication with their prescription providers regarding the cause of the pain and treatment options so that there are no questions unanswered.

“Patients realize that emergency departments are busy places, but that doesn’t reduce their desire to have meaningful interactions with their care providers,” Meisel said. “Patients want to be given information in a straight-forward way and then listened to, so that they leave feeling like they know what was causing their pain, what their pain management options were, and that their treatment preferences were heard.”

Now that the team has patient perspectives on opioid concerns, short video narratives will be created in order to relay pain management information and dependency risks to future patients.

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