Faculty and dental student knowledge, attitudes, and practices concerning the prescribing of opioids: Informing curricular change

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1 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study aimed to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices surrounding the prescribing of opioids and addiction in a dental school population. Methods: Predoctoral dental students, residents, and dental faculty were surveyed about their beliefs, awareness, opinions about, and prior training in the prescribing of opioids, current prescribing practices, and confidence with risk mitigation strategies. Demographic information collected included gender, race/ethnicity, faculty/student role, year of birth, and year of graduation. Results: Responses were received from 220 faculty and students (n = 47 and n = 173, respectively). Both faculty and students agreed that opioids were overprescribed for the treatment of dental pain. A majority of faculty and dental students (DS)3 + DS4 and DS1 + DS2 students expressed no or limited prior training in (1) the approved state opioid guidelines (75%, 79%, and 95%, respectively), (2) the identification/assessment of substance use disorders (68%, 81%, and 92%, respectively), and (3) patient education to accompany the prescribing of opioids (71%, 80%, and 92%, respectively). A majority of faculty reported moderate or extreme confidence in their clinical skills related to the prescribing of opioids (75%), their ability to identify patients with substance use disorders (55%), and their ability to discuss addiction risk and secure storage of opioids (65%). In contrast, DS3 + DS4 and DS1 + DS2 students expressed significantly less confidence and training. Faculty and students agreed that the role of a dentist included risk mitigation, but reported actions did not match their beliefs, reportedly due to lack of time, less confidence, and the assumption that a pharmacist would assume risk mitigation conversations. Conclusions: A cohesive curriculum across the four predoctoral years is needed focusing on factual knowledge about the prescribing of opioids, safe prescribing, and confidence with patient communication and risk mitigation strategies. In addition, a need for parallel faculty development synchronized with and reinforced by curricular content was identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-699
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • dental curriculum
  • dental faculty
  • dental students
  • knowledge-attitudes-practices survey
  • opioid epidemic
  • prescription opioids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Dentistry(all)


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