A new, interactive online course teaches health care providers to better promote the appropriate, safe, and effective use of opioids to manage chronic pain. Pathways to Safer Opioid Use, a training tool developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, uses the principles of health literacy and a multimodal, team-based approach to teach providers to

  • apply health literacy strategies to help patients understand and act on information to prevent opioid-related adverse drug events (ADEs);
  • identify individual risk factors, opioid medications, and interactions that place individuals with chronic pain at increased risk for opioid-related ADEs;
  • recognize the importance of a multidisciplinary, team-based approach to treating patients with chronic pain; and
  • demonstrate the ability to combine the principles of the Health Literate Care Model and the bio-psychosocial model of chronic pain management through case study examples.

In the training, users make decisions about preventing opioid-related ADEs from the perspectives of four characters: primary care physician, nurse, pharmacist, and patient.

The tool was designed using recommendations outlined in the National Action Plan for ADE Prevention.

Opioids are a significant contributor to ADEs, which account for more than 3.5 million physician office visits annually. ADEs is one of 10 areas of focus for the federal Partnership for Patients (PfP). As part of the PfP, America’s Essential Hospitals’ Essential Hospitals Engagement Network uses similar tools to reduce adverse events in member hospitals.