Introduction/Statement of the Problem: Successful treatment modalities for patients with co-morbid pain and substance abuse problems have been developed. However, the practice community is ill-equipped to incorporate such evidence-based recommendations or strong clinical consensus opinions due to a lack of knowledge and training in this area. Materials and Methods: Using funding from NIDA, this project is surveying and interviewing primary care physicians (PCPs), primary care residents, and nurse practitioners (NPs), to determine educational needs and learning preferences. We also inquired about interest in an educational experience involving Internet-based Standardized Patients (SPs) to mirror the challenges and variability of interviewing live patients. Exempt research determined by the Clinical Tools' IRB involved opt-in subjects who were contacted by email about participating in online surveys (n=9 for each group).
Results: Each group prioritized training need as follows: 1) treating patients in recovery, 2) treating patients actively using substances, 3) treating patients at risk for substance abuse. With respect to conventional online, case-based educational courses, each group preferred a format using multiple short cases (>75%). They differed slightly in terms of how to best integrate cases and factual content but all preferred interactive questions/answer pairs on every page. The majority of each group expressed interest in learning by interviewing a virtual SP. For the SP experience, a chat-based interview was
preferred to a video-based interview. Practicing physicians want very flexible hours and quick response time. Residents and NPs are more willing to wait for a response.
Conclusions: PCPs, residents and NPs identify a need to learn more about co-morbid substance abuse and pain. They are interested in online education solutions, especially those that employ multiple cases as the learning modality and interactive questions. They are willing to engage with virtual SP via chat.
Mitchell AM, Dewey CM. Chronic pain in patients with substance abuse disorder: general guidelines and an approach to treatment. Postrgrad Med. 2008;120(1):75-9 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18467812].