Dialogue Volume 15, Issue 3 2019 - Page 39

PRACTICE PARTNER Filling a Gap in Opioid Education BY STUART FOXMAN The Ontario Pain Management Resources is a group of health system agencies intent on ensuring physicians have the support they need to feel more confident caring for patients with pain. Over the last several issues of Dialogue, we have taken a closer look at the different contributions of the health system agencies involved. In this issue, the last in the series, we examine the online educational resources available. T o work best, the approach, formula, amount and timing have to be right. That’s true for medication and education. Among the continuing professional devel- opment (CPD) programs on opioids are two online offerings from McMaster University and the University of Toronto. They fill a need, and not just in increasing reach through e-Learning modules. Many clinicians face challenges in reducing the risks and harms of opioids, and simply managing patients with chronic pain. “These are major holes in medical curricula, right from the beginning of medical school,” says Dr. Abhimanyu Sud of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Sud is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and Director of the Safer Opioid Prescribing program in CPD. Why the rela- tive lack of emphasis on chronic pain educa- tion? Dr. Sud says the topic doesn’t align with how doctors typically think. “Chronic pain falls by the wayside because it doesn’t easily fit the biomedical model in the way diseases do,” he says. “Pathways of pain are understudied, and don’t account very well for the experience of patients. Our ten- dency is to focus on the larger model of how health and diseases happen.” Perhaps the biggest knowledge gap? “The complicated intersection between chronic pain and opioid use disorder,” says Dr. Jen- nifer Wyman, Academic Lead for McMaster’s Opioids Clinical Primer project. She continues, “We want to help clinicians assess their patients more carefully, and recog- ISSUE 3, 2019 DIALOGUE 39