February 8, 2017
Caroline Miller, MSW
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Division of Continuing Studies
Wisconsin Voices for Recovery partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health on a Community Engagement Project to conduct a statewide survey of practicing physicians and medical students. The survey was a student-led effort and initiated because medical students felt that their current education on issues related to addiction, specifically the opioid epidemic, was inadequate. The findings highlight where Wisconsin needs to commit resources to improve the education of both students and prescribers, along with end stigma within the medical community.
Survey Details and Sample of Findings
"We learn about the neuropsychology of addiction, but do not learn how to effectively care for patients struggling with addiction, and how to address the existing stigma around addiction." University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical StudentThis survey (sample: 170 Medical students and 58 Medical Doctors in Wisconsin; majority of the MD responses were from Family Medicine Departments) assesses knowledge on the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), naloxone, best treatment practices for opioid addiction, as well as attitudes toward patients with a history of substance abuse, treatment of patients suspected of drug seeking behavior, use of addiction medicine consults in the inpatient setting, and other areas. Below is a sample of some of the findings from the survey.
1. Assessing student and MD knowledge on patients at highest risk of opioid related OD led to the finding that the majority of both MDs and students were incorrect, choosing the 23-year-old white male (59% students, 69% MDs); while only 25% students and 14% MDs were correct in choosing a 50-year-old white female.
3. Assessing knowledge on best treatment of opioid use disorder (MAT plus counseling and support groups): 46% students and 57% MDs correct.
4. Assessing opinion on relapse likelihood: 40% students and 14% MDs believe relapse is likely regardless of treatment approach.
5. When asked who is responsible for the current opioid epidemic, the top three responses were the same for both students and MDs: healthcare professionals (overprescribing), pharmaceutical companies (marketing practices), and people with addiction or opioid use disorders.
6. Only 0.5% of students and 1% MDs would prescribe a female patient, 50 years-old, with 3 months of persistent pain despite 3 months of scheduled NSAIDS and PT with Oxycodone.
7. Majority of medical students (69%) and MDs (78%) have the opinion that sustained recovery is possible proper support (MAT, NA, 12-step program)
Wisconsin Voices for Recovery sees the implications of this survey reaching far beyond the walls of a classroom. Should a follow-up survey be conducted? Are curriculum changes or additions important to consider for the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and other schools; and if so, should this process be expedited due to the current crisis in our state and nation?Medical students want to learn more about:
- How to talk to patients about addiction
- Non-opioid treatment options and their efficacies
- Indications for using opioids, and how to prescribe them safely
There are many questions that still need answers, but this survey points to some thought (and research)-provoking topics. While a majority of students and MDs surveyed believe that recovery is possible with support, there are some in the medical community who still doubt this truth. Similarly, it leads one to question the impact of stigma on the medical community and how this may translate to patient care. It is up to the medical community – both professional and educational – to commit to learning about current trends and best practices in treating opioid use disorders, and being a catalyst for dispelling the myths about addiction. Recovery is a reality; and this concept should be a priority of the medical community – all communities – especially in times such as these.
Wisconsin Voices for Recovery would like to thank Dr. Randall Brown, from UW Family Medicine and Community Health, along with Skylar Chouinard and Aman Prasad from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, for their contributions and support.
About our Guest Blogger
Caroline Miller is an Outreach Specialist with the University of Wisconsin -Madison Division ofContinuing Studies and Wisconsin Voices for Recovery project and Director of the John Adams Recovery Home for women. She is also the Director of Creative Consultation Services, LLC, providing consultation focusing on program development, capacity building, and communications for recovery-related initiatives and projects.
Contact Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org
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