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Development and Initial Testing of a Pilot Pharmacy-Based Digital Opioid Safety Intervention

MAY 10, 2024

Deepika Rao, PhD, MS, BPharm
T32 Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for Technology and Behavioral Health
Dartmouth College
About the Presentation: There was a 16% increase in prescription-opioid involved death rates in 2020, despite the declining trend in opioid prescribing rates observed since 2012. Prevention interventions such as screening education, prescription monitoring programs, and naloxone dispensing can reduce opioid misuse and promote opioid safety, while ensuring appropriate medication access. Community pharmacists are uniquely positioned to offer opioid misuse prevention interventions due to their high accessibility and medication expertise. However, our initial research identified pharmacist reported implementation barriers including mixed perceptions for the need for change in pharmacy practice and perceived inability to change setting characteristics or workflows significantly to accommodate prevention interventions. Patient-identified needs regarding prevention interventions included opioid and safety education, privacy and convenience through digital rather than in-person formats, messaging in non-stigmatizing language, and improved communication with their healthcare teams. Among the various prevention interventions identified in our prior study, patients prioritized patient-centered opioid safety education while pharmacists highlighted the need for improved naloxone dispensing. Our objective of this pilot project was to develop a digital prototype of an opioid safety educational tool and evaluate its feasibility and acceptability among pharmacists and patients. We have created a first-version prototype of the opioid medication safety app that covers pain management, safe opioid use, medication storage and disposal, and naloxone use. The prototype depicts program look-and-feel, includes program content and delivery approach, and demonstrates program navigation and flow. We have also collected preliminary efficacy, usability, feasibility, and acceptability data on this prototype from representative end-user patients and pharmacists. Future research will include refinement of the prototype based on end-user feedback to include an opioid misuse screening component.  Results of pilot will inform the development of a novel pharmacy-based digital screening and brief intervention for opioid misuse and a larger effectiveness research study.
About the Presenter: Deepika holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy (2016) from University of Mumbai, India and a master’s degree in Pharmacy Administration (2018) from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. Deepika received her PhD in Health Services Research in Pharmacy (2022) from UW-Madison. Her doctoral dissertation involved developing a patient-centered screening and brief intervention for opioid misuse for pharmacy settings. Currently as a T32 postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth, Deepika is studying the development and implementation of digital health interventions in the prevention and treatment of substance use and mental health disorders. She is particularly interested in studying the application of mixed methods and dissemination and implementation sciences, especially in improving the role of pharmacists in addiction care.