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Perceptions of opioid misuse and chronic pain: A qualitative assessment of Rhode Island commercial fishing captains

Travis Brown, BS, Paul George, MD, MHPE


Objectives: To better understand how the contextual circumstances and lifestyle of commercial fishermen influence their access to healthcare and potentially contribute to the use and misuse of opioids.

Methods: The authors conducted in-person, semistructured interviews with 15 full-time fishing captains in Rhode Island between the months of May and July of 2017.

Results: The authors identified five major themes: Recurrent patterns of addiction and opiate use among crewmembers; chronic pain and injury as common constructs of life in the fishing industry; insufficient pain management resources; practical barriers to obtaining primary healthcare; and perceived lack of support from state government.

Conclusions: Rhode Island commercial fishing captains perceived opioid misuse among crewmembers, work-related chronic pain, and inadequate healthcare access as barriers to sustainability of their industry.


commercial fishing, occupational health, opioids, chronic pain, primary care

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