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Knowledge gaps and practice patterns of clinicians treating patients with opioid use disorder

Maziar Rasulnia, PhD, Billy Stephen Burton, MS, Dhiren Patel, PharmD


Objective: The goal of the study was to assess knowledge gaps and practice patterns of US-based addiction specialists, primary care physicians (PCPs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and physician assistants (PAs) who treat patients with opioid use disorder (OUD).

Design: As part of a prospective study, the authors developed a survey tool consisting of case-vignettes and questions designed to reveal practice patterns and highlight gaps in clinician knowledge.

Setting: The primary study setting included clinicians practicing in outpatient care.

Participants: The surveys were distributed via email between August and September 2017 to a national sample of addiction specialists, PCPs, and NPs/Pas that see at least one patient per week and at least 1 percent of their patient population had to be diagnosed with OUD.

Results: The knowledge assessment results varied among the clinicians surveyed. Addiction specialists saw more patients with OUD than PCPs, NPs, or PAs. They also demonstrated a higher level of understanding and knowledge of the various domains assessed.

Conclusions: There are multiple educational intervention strategies that can support the clinicians; including reducing restrictions to access treatment for OUD, care coordination programs for patients to improve early access to treatment and education, and frequent chart audit and feedback programs to support clinician decision making and education.


opioid use disorder, provider knowledge, provider practices, continuing medical education, provider education

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