Primary care physicians (PCPs) are aware of and concerned about the opioid epidemic on a national scale, and are altering their prescribing practices accordingly. The clinical use of prescription opioids for treating chronic pain nearly doubled from 2000 to 2010, along with an increase in opioid abuse, addiction, injury and death, wrote researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore. They conducted the survey to examine PCP beliefs and self-reported practices for prescription opioids because PCPs “play a critical role in maximizing the safe use of these products.” Of the respondents, 90% said prescription drug abuse is a “big” or “moderate” problem in their communities; 85% said opioids are overused in clinical practice; and 45% reported being less likely to prescribe opioids compared with one year ago. Eighty-eight percent felt confident in their own clinical skills to accurately prescribe opioids—49% reported being at least “moderately” comfortable using these drugs for chronic noncancer pain.
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