Managing Acute Pain and Opioid Risks Following Wisdom Teeth Extraction: An Illustrative Case

MedEdPORTAL. 2019 Nov 22;15:10855. doi: 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.10855.


Introduction: The opioid epidemic has awakened educators to the insufficiency of training in the areas of pain management and substance use disorders within the curricula of health sciences schools. The University of Pittsburgh Center of Excellence in Pain Education created an online educational module focusing on factors contributing to the opioid epidemic and the role of robust interprofessional communication in avoiding common practitioner errors.

Methods: The 1-hour module created by an interprofessional team comprised a pretest, video presentation featuring case vignettes, posttest, and learner satisfaction survey. The content of the module focused on four core concepts: (1) managing acute perioperative pain, (2) maximizing opioid safety, and (3) identifying and (4) managing suspected opioid abuse and diversion.

Results: Data were obtained from 250 dental, pharmacy, and nursing students from the University of Pittsburgh who completed the module as part of their respective profession-specific curricula. Results collapsed across the three school-specific implementations indicated an average increase in knowledge test scores from pre- to posttest (Z = -8.82, p < .001). In addition, the learner satisfaction data revealed an overall positive response to the module, with students commenting that they enjoyed the module and felt it provided them with a valuable learning experience.

Discussion: Learner outcomes and feedback suggest that our interprofessional team was successful in creating an effective learning module applicable to several health care professions, namely, pharmacy, dentistry, and nursing. Future studies might address the application of the knowledge gained to actual patient care.

Keywords: Interprofessional; Opioid Education, Opioids; Opioid Misuse; Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery; Pain Management; Primary Care; Substance Abuse/Addiction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Educational Measurement
  • Facial Pain / drug therapy*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Molar, Third / surgery*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Pain Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students, Dental
  • Students, Nursing
  • Students, Pharmacy
  • Tooth Extraction / adverse effects*


  • Analgesics, Opioid