Improving opioid guideline adherence: evaluation of a multifaceted, theory-informed pilot intervention for family physicians

Publication type
Journal article
Leece P, Shantharam Y, Hassam S, Buchman DZ, Hamilton M, Persaud N, Kahan M, Spithoff S, Srivastava A, Sproule BA, Carlin L, Furlan AD
Date published
2020 Jan 01
BMJ Open
Open Access?

OBJECTIVES: Opioid-related deaths continue to increase in North America, an epidemic that was initiated by high rates of opioid prescribing. We designed a multifaceted, theory-informed Opioid Self-Assessment (OSA) package, to increase adherence to the Canadian Opioid Guideline among family physicians. This study aimed to assess changes in Canadian family physicians' knowledge and practices after completing the OSA package. DESIGN: We conducted a mixed-method evaluation using a pre-test and post-test design that involved the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data. SETTING: This research was conducted in the primary care setting in Ontario, Canada. PARTICIPANTS: We recruited a purposive sample of nine family physicians in Ontario who use long-term opioid therapy to treat patients with chronic pain. INTERVENTIONS: The OSA package included four components: an online knowledge test, an online learning programme, a safe medication practice self-assessment questionnaire and chart audit with feedback. OUTCOME MEASURES: Our measures included changes in knowledge, opioid safety practices and physicians' perspectives on the OSA package. RESULTS: We found statistically significant improvements between pre-test and post-test knowledge scores at both baseline and 6-month follow-up. Physicians' scores improved significantly on five of the seven core characteristics of the practice self-assessment questionnaire. On the chart audits, we observed an improvement in patient education between baseline and 6 months. Qualitative interviews showed that participants appreciated embedded resources in the OSA package. The completion of the package stimulated identification of gaps or deficits in practice and served as a useful reminder to discuss risk and safety with patients. Participants described the chart review as helpful in prompting discussions with their patients, identifying deficits and strengths and a 'primary motivator' for project participation. CONCLUSIONS: The OSA package has the potential to improve medication safety practices in primary care related to opioid monitoring and adherence to current opioid guidelines