Zorrilla-Vaca A, Mena GE, Ramirez PT, et al. Effectiveness of Perioperative Opioid Educational Initiatives: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Anesth Analg. 2021 Jun 11. pii: 00000539-990000000-00168. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000005634. (Systematic review)

BACKGROUND: Opioids are the most commonly prescribed analgesics in the United States. Current guidelines have proposed education initiatives to reduce the risk of chronic opioid consumption, yet there is lack of efficacy data on such interventions. Our study evaluates the impact of perioperative opioid education on postoperative opioid consumption patterns including opioid cessation, number of pills consumed, and opioid prescription refills.

METHODS: The MEDLINE/PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the impact of perioperative educational interventions (using either paper- or video-based instruments regarding pain management and drug-induced side effects) on postoperative opioid patterns compared to standard preoperative care among patients undergoing elective surgery. Our end points were opioid consumption (number of pills used), appropriate disposal of unused opioids, opioid cessation (defined as no use of opioids), and opioid refills within 15 days, 6 weeks, and 3 months.

RESULTS: In total, 11 RCTs fulfilled the inclusion criteria, totaling 1604 patients (804 received opioid education, while 800 received standard care). Six trials followed patients for 15 days after surgery, and 5 trials followed patients up to 3 months. After 15 days, the opioid education group consumed a lower number of opioid pills than those in the control group (weighted mean difference [WMD], -3.39 pills; 95% confidence interval [CI], -6.40 to -0.37; P =.03; I2 = 69%) with no significant difference in overall opioid cessation (odds ratio [OR], 0.25; 95% CI, 0.04-1.56; P = .14; I2 = 83%). Likewise, perioperative opioid education did not have significant effects on opioid cessation at 6 weeks (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.45-1.05; P = .10; I2 = 0%) and 3 months (OR, 0.59; 95% CI,0.17-2.01; P = .10; I2 = 0%) after surgery, neither reduced the need for opioid refills at 15 days (OR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.28-1.15; P = .12; I2 = 20%) and 6 weeks (OR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.59-1.98; P = .80; I2 = 37%). There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of appropriate disposal of unused opioids between both groups (OR, 1.99; 95% CI, 0.66-6.00; P = .22; I2 = 71%). Subgroup analysis by type of educational intervention showed a statistical reduction of opioid consumption at 15 days when implementing multimedia/audiovisual strategies (4 trials: WMD, -4.05 pills; 95% CI, -6.59 to -1.50; P = .002; I2 = 45%), but there was no apparent decrease when using only paper-based strategies (2 trials: WMD, -2.31 pills; 95% CI, -12.21 to 7.59; P = .65; I2 = 80%).

CONCLUSIONS: Perioperative educational interventions reduced the number of opioid pills consumed at 15 days but did not demonstrate a significant effect on opioid cessation or opioid refills at 15 days, 6 weeks, and 3 months. Further randomized trials should focus on evidence-based educational interventions with strict homogeneity of material to draw a more definitive recommendation.

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Comments from MORE raters

Physician rater

The results of this review showed somewhat inconsistent beneficial effects of perioperative educational interventions. It reduced the number of opioid pills consumed at 15 days, but did not reduce opioid refills. In my prescription practice, I adjust the duration and dosage of opioid analgesics according to the need and previous consumption.

Physician rater

Any intervention that can reduce the use of opioids and potentially decrease abuse is useful but this educational effort had little effect.

Physician rater

This is a systematic review of perioperative educational initiatives to decrease opioid use after surgery. The authors found 11 randomized controlled trials. The composite effect was well represented with a Forest plot and showed only minimal benefit, decreased number of pills at 15 days. It is interesting that there were further use of opioids past that time when patients would be expected to have less pain. The authors assessed bias and used a random-effects model which is standard but it is possible that there was a type 2 error. There clearly needs to be larger, more homogeneous trials of the most promising interventions.

Physician rater

I would have expected these results.
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