Prescription drug abuse—defined as the use of a medication in a way that is not prescribed, without a prescription, or for non-medical purposes—is a significant public health concern. Although all types of prescription drug abuse are worrisome, a focus on opioid abuse/misuse is especially important give that it may eventuate in heroin use.
AIR served as the evaluator of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Prescriber Education Campaign, funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. AIR’s evaluation focuses on the effectiveness of the Campaign in increasing physicians’ use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and awareness of tools and resources to prevent prescription drug abuse.
AIR evaluated the effectiveness of the tools and resources of the Campaign in increasing physicians’
- awareness of the severity of prescription drug abuse nationally and within their practices;
- perceptions of their ability to identify patients at risk or currently abusing prescription drugs, and take appropriate action;
- awareness of preventative tools, particularly their state specific PDMP; and
- usage of preventative tools and resources.
The Campaign was implemented in six states—Delaware, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Washington, and West Virginia—across a five-month period in 2015. Thirty-four physicians from these six states completed a pre- and post-survey to assess the impact of the Campaign.The main findings from the evaluation suggested that physicians
- had a strong awareness of prescription drug abuse;
- were confident in their ability to prescribe drugs;
- identify prescription drug misuse and abuse; and
- use tools and resources to help take appropriate action.
Physicians are also aware of and actively used their state specific PDMP system. Physicians use multiple resources available to them through the PDMP, including talking with other physicians, pharmacies, and pain specialists about patients they suspect of misusing or abusing prescriptions. Physicians currently use processes of care that align with best practices and clinical guidelines of prescription drug therapy for their patients.
Our findings suggested that the Campaign provided important, rich educational resources to physicians. The Campaign also provided an important avenue for physicians to access their state specific PDMP to register or use the PDMP to check a patient’s prescription medication history.