HealthDay News — Military patients whose primary care clinicians participated in a telementoring program, including education on pain management best practices, have larger declines in opioid-related prescriptions than patients whose clinicians did not participate, according to a study published online Oct. 31 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Joanna G. Katzman, M.D., M.S.P.H., from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and colleagues assessed military medical treatment facilities worldwide to determine whether participation in the Army and Navy Chronic Pain and Opioid Management TeleECHO Clinic (ECHO Pain) yielded significant declines in opioid prescribing among primary care clinicians. ECHO Pain involved telementoring regarding best practices in pain management and safe opioid prescribing.

The researchers found that primary care clinicians participating in ECHO Pain had greater percent declines than the comparison group in annual opioid prescriptions per patient (−23 versus −9 percent), average morphine milligram equivalents prescribed per patient/year (−28 versus −7 percent), days of coprescribed opioid and benzodiazepine per opioid user per year (−53 versus −1 percent), and number of opioid users (−20.2 versus −8 percent).

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“This study suggests that clinician education in both the federal and civilian sectors may have a substantial impact on the opioid epidemic,” the authors write.

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