Community Pharmacist Engagement in Opioid Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Behaviors: A Descriptive Analysis

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Objectives: This study describes community pharmacists’ opioid analgesic and medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) practice behaviors and behavioral intentions in the context of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of opioid use disorder (OUD).

Methods: The study sampling frame consisted of 2302 Tennessee community-practice pharmacists who were asked to complete a mailed, paper questionnaire. Behavioral intentions were elicited by asking pharmacists to indicate the number of times (0 to 10) they engage in a behavior, given 10 patients in 3 distinct vignettes. Perceptions of evidence-based MOUD and pain management patient care practices were also elicited.

Results: A response rate of 19.7% was achieved. Pharmacists reported using a brief questionnaire to evaluate risk of opioid misuse with 2.1 ± 3.7 (mean ± SD) out of 10 patients, screening 2.1 ± 3.7 patients for current opioid misuse, discussing co-dispensing of naloxone with 2.9 ± 3.4 to 3.3 ± 4 out of 10 patients at a risk of overdose, and dispensing buprenorphine/naloxone to a mean of 4.6 ± 4.2 patients when they presented a prescription. Respondents perceived 38% of pain management and 30% of MOUD prescribers in their area to practice evidenced-based care.

Conclusion: Pharmacists have an opportunity to improve the outcomes for patients prescribed opioids by increasing engagement across OUD prevention levels.