Substance use education in US schools of pharmacy: A systematic review of the literature

Subst Abus. Oct-Dec 2017;38(4):455-463. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2017.1341448. Epub 2017 Jun 12.


Background: The authors sought to systematically review the quantity and quality of literature describing substance use disorders (SUDs) education in US schools of pharmacy and determine the effectiveness of the educational interventions employed.

Methods: The authors conducted a systematic review of SUDs education studies in US pharmacy schools. All literature database searches were performed on April 30, 2016, in 5 databases: Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations,, ERIC via FirstSearch, and CINAHL via EBSCOhost. The study authors conducted this systematic review according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systemic Reviews and Meta-analyses guidelines and registered it with PROSPERO, which is an international prospective register of systematic reviews. The PROSPERO registration number is CRD42016037443. The study authors created a modified data extraction sheet based on the Best Evidence in Medical Education coding sheet. A Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument (MERSQI) score was calculated for included articles. Results: From the 1626 retrieved records, 7 were included in the present review. The studies assessed students' impressions and abilities regarding SUDs pre- and post-intervention. The mean ± SD MERSQI score of the 7 studies was 9.86 ± 1.21 (range: 8-11.5). The included articles assessed pharmacy students at various academic years, with the majority students in either their first or second year of pharmacy school, and described both required and elective courses. The educational interventions varied in design and outcomes measured. Education included nicotine, alcoholism, and SUDs in general. None of the included articles reported on education regarding opioid use disorders. Conclusions: The studies included in this systematic review demonstrate that teaching pharmacy students about SUDs produces a positive impact in their attitudes and knowledge on this subject.

Keywords: Addiction; alcohol; education; opioid; pharmacy students; substance use disorders; tobacco.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Education, Pharmacy*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Students / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders*