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Opioid abuse risk among student pharmacists

Jena J. Patel, PharmD, MBA, Lucio R. Volino, PharmD, CTTS, Leon E. Cosler, RPh, PhD, Xuanqing Wang, BS, PharmD Candidate, Sandra L. Kane-Gill, PharmD, MSc, FCCP, FCCM, Michael Toscani, PharmD, Joseph A. Barone, PharmD, FCCP


Objective: To benchmark opioid abuse risk among student pharmacists attending three northeast pharmacy schools utilizing the opioid risk tool (ORT).

Design: A cross-sectional, anonymous risk assessment questionnaire.

Setting: Three pharmacy schools in the northeast United States.

Participants: Professional year 1 (P1) through professional year 3 (P3) student pharmacists.

Methods: ORT was collected and scored by investigators and inputted into an electronic format for analysis. Students voluntarily participated, and 812 surveys were completed during one course meeting time and day at each school.

Results: The majority of students were in the low-risk category (n = 581, 71.6 percent). Additionally, 137 (16.9 percent) patients were categorized as moderate risk and 94 (11.6 percent) as high risk. No statistically significant differences existed when comparing risk groups across the first through third professional year student pharmacist cohorts. There were no statistically significant differences in the proportion of risk groups among the three pharmacy cohorts between low-risk versus the high-risk groups. When comparing risk groups by gender, males were found to have a statistically significant higher proportion of being classified as moderate or high risk.

Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate that there may be some student pharmacists with an increased risk for opioid abuse potential. There is potential need for education regarding opioid risk awareness and abuse prevention, which may serve as a call to action for professional school students and practitioners to understand baseline opioid abuse risk if they require chronic pain therapy.


chronic pain management, student pharmacists, opioid risk, opioid abuse risk, drug abuse, substance abuse

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