Developing and validating an opioid overdose prevention and response curriculum for undergraduate medical education

Subst Abus. 2021 Jul 2;1-10. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2021.1941515. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Introduction: As rates of overdose and substance use disorders (SUDs) increase, medical schools are starting to incorporate more content on SUDs and harm reduction in undergraduate medical education (UME). Initial data suggest these additions may improve medical student knowledge and attitudes toward patients with SUDs; however, there is no standard curriculum. Methods: This project uses a six-step approach to UME curricular development to identify needs and goals regarding SUDs and opioid overdose at a large single-campus medical school in the United States. We first developed and delivered a pilot curriculum to a small group of medical students. Pilot results and a larger survey led to implementing a one-hour Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response (OOPR) Training for first-year students. Effects of training were tracked using baseline and post-training surveys examining knowledge and attitudes toward opioid overdose and patients with SUDs. Results: Needs assessment indicated desire and need for training. The pilot study (N = 66) resulted in significantly improved knowledge regarding opioid overdose; 100% of students enjoyed training and believed others should receive it. The larger replication study surveyed all incoming students (N = 266) to gauge initial knowledge and experiences with these topics. Results prompted enhancement of the OOPR Training curriculum, which was delivered to half of the first-year class. Post-training survey results replicated the pilot study findings. The majority (95.2%) of students enjoyed training and 98.4% believed all students should receive it. Conclusion: Delivering a thorough curriculum on SUDs and harm reduction in UME is critical. Although many schools are implementing training, there is no standard curriculum. We outline a low-resource training intervention for OOPR. Our findings identified key features to include in these UME curricula. This approach provides a replicable template for schools seeking to develop brief educational interventions and identify essential content for curricula in SUDs and harm reduction.

Keywords: Opioid overdose; curriculum development; harm reduction; undergraduate medical education.