Physician Responses to the Opioid Epidemic in the Context of Population-­Based Pain and Opioid Care

  • Ajay D. Wasan


The opioid epidemic is a multifaceted phenomenon in which the prescription of opioids for pain still plays a significant role. However, a plethora of efforts in the physician community following many years of epidemiological research regarding patterns and characteristics of prescription opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction have led to best practice guidelines agreed upon widely. Adoption of these guidelines and specific changes across health care systems and in individual provider practices have resulted in improved opioid prescribing patterns, which are safer and no less effective in addressing pain. The experience at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is highlighted as an example of progressive change to address the simultaneous epidemics of poorly controlled chronic pain affecting 100 million adults in this country and prescription opioid use disorders affecting 2.2 million adults.