Many incoming residents express a troubling lack of knowledge on how to diagnose and address opioid use disorder (OUD), and a vast majority are asking for formal training to help guide them through the current epidemic, according to new findings from the first wave of a cross-sectional survey of new resident physicians.
Researcher Isabella Morton, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore presented her findings in a poster session at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2018 annual meeting.
The results are based on a 33-item survey given to 52 incoming residents from 4 training programs: 16 in psychiatry, 15 in internal medicine, 14 in emergency medicine, and 7 in obstetrics and gynecology. The residents were in their first month of training at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The survey was developed to evaluate incoming residents’ knowledge of and attitudes toward OUD. The researchers plan to continue to give the survey to new residents throughout the next 4 years.
The findings reveal that more than one third (38 percent) of those surveyed said they had received no formal training in OUD in medical school. Only 15 percent felt knowledgeable about OUD treatment and resources in their community.
Nearly half of all residents (48 percent) and 31 percent of psychiatry residents said they felt unprepared to diagnose OUD, and an “impressive” 84 percent of all residents and 94 percent of psychiatry residents said they wanted more formal training in residency in the treatment of OUD, Morton said.
Approximately 44 percent of all residents and 25 percent of psychiatry residents said they felt unprepared to diagnosis opioid withdrawal. Only 30.8 percent of all residents felt prepared to treat opioid withdrawal.
Overall, the new findings demonstrate that new medical residents do not have the appropriate experience or knowledge to address the nation’s current opioid epidemic and that the vast majority of residents desire more formal training on OUD, according to the researchers.
The survey results show the overwhelming need for innovations in education so that physicians in training can acquire the necessary knowledge to confront the nation’s current opioid epidemic.
Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die from opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse alone in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of health care, lost productivity, addiction treatment and criminal justice involvement.