Opioid Prescribing Habits in a Family Medicine Residency Program for the Management of Non-Cancer Pain

  • Anne Marie Thibodeaux Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy
  • Keith Foster Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy
  • Jessica W Skelley Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy
  • Marion Sims St. Vincent’s East Family Medicine Residency Program
Keywords: opioid prescribing, primary care, noncancer pain


Objectives: 1. List components of the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, 2. Describe the prescribing habits of medical residents and attending physicians within a family medicine residency program, 3. Discuss the direction of future research

Methods: A report was generated for all patients with opioids listed as a medication at Christ Health Center family medicine clinic from July 2016 to June 2017. A total of 153 patients were identified with prescriptions written for chronic non-cancer pain indications. Clinical management via a retrospective chart review was completed utilizing a standardized data collection form centered around four of twelve recommendations within the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain: (1) Avoid concurrent opioid and benzodiazepine prescribing; (2) evaluate benefits and harms with patients within 1 to 4 weeks of starting opioid therapy; (3) perform urine drug testing before starting opioids and consider at least annually; and (4) offer/prescribe medication for opioid use disorder for all patients taking chronic opioids.

Results: A total of 153 prescriptions were written for chronic indications. The most common indications were chronic back pain (32.0%), unspecified chronic pain (31.4%), and osteoarthritis (9.8%). Average duration of therapy was 26.6 months. Forty-two (27.5%) patients were concurrently receiving benzodiazepine therapy. Eighteen (11.8%) patients performed a drug test before or during therapy. Twenty-two (14.4%) patients had documented discussion with their prescriber evaluating the benefits and harms of their opioid regimens. No patients were prescribed medication for opioid overdose.

Conclusion: Prescribing habits did not align with the four-guideline recommendations evaluated. The need for provider-focused education on current pain management practice guidelines was identified.


Article Type: Student Project


Download data is not yet available.
Received 2018-03-03
Accepted 2019-05-15
Published 2019-05-20
Pharmacy Practice & Practice-Based Research