General practitioners' and community pharmacists' beliefs and practices on opioids for non-malignant pain

E A W Jansen-Groot Koerkamp*, Y M Weesie, M Heringa, K Hek, J W Blom, M E Numans, L van Dijk, M L Bouvy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: In Europe, opioid use has surged, largely due to prescriptions for chronic non-malignant pain (CNMP). General practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacists (CPs) play a major role in opioid prescribing for non-malignant pain. Exploring their personal beliefs and practices might reveal underlying mechanisms to identify measures that could halt the further escalation of opioid use.

METHODS: Guided by the health belief model, a survey was designed and distributed nationwide to examine the practices and beliefs of GPs and CPs in the domains: threats, benefits, barriers and self-efficacy. The results of GPs and CPs were compared at the statement level using chi-square analysis.

RESULTS: Of 214 GPs and 212 CPs who completed the survey, the majority agreed that too many opioids are used in the treatment of chronic non-malignant pain (66.8% GPs and 66.5% CPs). Furthermore, they were concerned about the addictive potential of opioids (83.1% GPs and 71.7% CPs). In general, both professions have concerns about opioid use. GPs report a slightly higher degree of self-efficacy and perceive fewer benefits from opioids in treating CNMP. GPs and CPs valued the recommended measures to reduce opioid prescribing, yet less than half actively implement these strategies in their clinics.

CONCLUSION: GPs and CPs believe that opioids are being used too frequently to treat CNMP. However, both professions lack the actions to improve opioid-related care. GPs and CPs require education, collaboration and tools to implement guidelines on non-malignant pain and opioids.

SIGNIFICANCE: This study, guided by the health belief model, reveals that general practitioners and community pharmacists have serious concerns about opioid use in chronic non-malignant pain. Despite shared concerns, both professions differ in their beliefs about opioid benefits and perceived self-efficacy. Both professions have in common that they value recommended measures to reduce opioid prescribing. Also, they both struggle to implement strategies, emphasizing the urgent need for education, collaboration and tools to align practices with guidelines on non-malignant pain and opioids.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain (United Kingdom)
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2024

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