Evaluation of the Impact of an Online Opioid Education Program for Acute Pain Management

Pain Med. 2020 Jan 1;21(1):55-60. doi: 10.1093/pm/pny300.


Objective: The University of Washington instituted a policy requiring all credentialed clinicians who prescribe opioids to complete a one-time education activity about safe and responsible opioid prescribing. A scenario-based, interactive online learning module was developed for opioid management of acute pain in hospitalized adults. This study examined the impact of the education module on learners' knowledge, perceived competence, and use of guideline-adherent practices.

Methods: Clinicians who completed the education module participated in a voluntary de-identified online survey approximately six months after the learning activity. Survey questions were related to 1) the perception of improved knowledge; 2) impact on learner's use of three guideline-adherent practices; and 3) perceived competence in managing opioids for acute pain. Descriptive statistics were generated, and multiple linear regression models were used for analysis.

Results: Clinicians (N = 167) reported improvement in knowledge and perceived competence. Controlling for other aspects of knowledge evaluated, learning to construct a safe opioid taper plan for acute pain, distinguishing between short- and long-acting opioids, and safely initiating opioids for acute pain were significantly associated with increased self-reported likelihood of incorporating the Washington state Prescription Monitoring Program (P = 0.003), using multimodal analgesia (P = 0.022), and reducing the duration of opioids prescribed (P = 0.016). Only improvement in knowledge of how to construct a safe opioid taper plan was significantly associated with increased perceived competence (P = 0.002).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that this online education module about safe opioid prescribing for acute pain management was effective at improving knowledge, increasing the likelihood of using guideline-adherent clinical practices, and increasing perceived competence.

Keywords: Competence; Knowledge; Online Education; Opioid Prescribing; Pain Management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Education, Distance*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Pain Management / methods*


  • Analgesics, Opioid