Addressing the opioid knowledge gap

Choosing Wisely Australia has created a resource for use in hospitals to help improve  patients’ knowledge about opioids. 


Part of a global campaign encouraging better information sharing between practitioners and patients, to mitigate unnecessary tests and treatments, Choosing Wisely Australia said Australian patients are not provided with enough information when discharged with opioids from hospital 


The claim is based on a recent study, published by the ANZ Journal of Surgerywhich found patients discharged from an Australian metropolitan hospital often had false expectations that they would be pain-free with opioids, did not understand the risks associated with opioids and expected to continue to use opioids indefinitely. 


Another survey, released by National Prescribing Service (NPS) MedicineWise which facilitates Choosing Wisely in Australia, supported these findings, with just 37% of NPS study respondents saying they understood the long-term impact of opioids.  


“Helping medical practitioners and consumers to develop pain management plans that work is essential to achieve changes in attitudes and behaviours that will lead to safe and appropriate prescribing and use of opioids,” said NPS MedicineWise client relations manager Dr Robyn Lindner 


To address the issue, Choosing Wisely Australia has produced a two-page patient guide for healthcare providers to give to people prescribed opioids as inpatients or on discharge 


The patient guide is designed to raise awareness about opioids use for short-term pain, their side effects and dependence risks, and includes five questions patient are encouraged to ask their health professional before leaving hospital with opioids. The five questions are modelled on Choosing Wisely Australia’s main five questions to ask your doctor resource aimed at initiating better conversations about tests, treatments and procedures.  


The opioid guide also includes tips for taking and storing opioids at home and a personal pain management plan that should be developed in conjunction with a health professionalThe guide is available here plus a video.





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