Thakur T, Chewning B. Using role theory to explore pharmacist role conflict in opioid risks communication. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2020 Aug;16(8):1121-6. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2019.11.012.


Background: Pharmacists and prescribers play a key role as opioid educators by creating awareness about risks and appropriate use of prescription opioids when dispensed or prescribed.

Objectives: This study aims to explore: (1) What prescribers and pharmacists explain to patients about opioid medication risks. (2) What patients want pharmacists to explain during opioid consults, and (3) Pharmacists' role conflict educating patients about opioid risks.

Methods: 35 semi-structured interviews (10 pharmacists, 9 prescribers, 10 adult patients and 6 pediatric patient caregivers) were conducted with participants. Interview transcripts were coded using software Nvivo followed by inductive content analysis. Triangulation was used for study validation.

Results: The following themes emerged from qualitative analysis: 1Most patients reported not being told their medication was an opioid with possible risks. 2Most patients wanted to know possible opioid risks and were comfortable with pharmacists educating them. 3Prescribers and patients supported having pharmacists cover opioid risk information, but pharmacists reported barriers to educating patients about opioid medication risks.

Conclusion: Clear patient education about opioids is necessary. To achieve this objective, structured guidelines for roles, training, resources and behavioral interventions are needed for pharmacists and other prescribers to provide opioid risk counselling to patients.

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