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ADEA Publishes Research on Dental Schools’ Curricular and Clinical Approaches to Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

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The opioid epidemic continues to be a leading public health crisis in the United States. Early indications from the first half of 2020 show that the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the opioid epidemic. The ADEA Office of Policy and Education Research released new research in the December 2020 issue of the Journal of Dental Education showing how dental educators are addressing the epidemic. ADEA members can access the article for free. 

Dental educators have played a critical role in addressing the opioid public health crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 70% of the 67,000 drug overdose deaths in 2018 were related to prescription or illicit opioids. Dentists have been identified as one of the leading prescribers of opioids. ADEA’s new research shows how dental educators are working to ensure that new dental professionals gain the necessary knowledge and skills in substance abuse, specifically related to opioids, to prevent and minimize prescription drug misuse. Additionally, this publication identifies initiatives and policy changes that U.S. dental schools have undertaken to address the current opioid crisis.

The ADEA research is an analysis of the results of a semi-structured survey that ADEA conducted with the 66 accredited U.S. dental schools in 2019. The survey was organized into four modules: curricular (Module 1), clinical (Module 2), implemented curricular/clinical changes (Module 3) and willingness to participate in future studies (Module 4). Seventy percent of the dental schools consented to participate. The survey revealed that 87% of respondent dental schools have implemented curricular changes or curricular changes were in process in response to the opioid epidemic. Ninety‐three percent of responding schools reported making clinical changes or that clinical changes were in process.

ADEA is pleased that this research is accompanied by a commentary co-authored by Paul Moore, D.M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and Elliott V. Hersh, D.M.D., M.S., Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

Article citation: Escontrías OA, Istrate E, Stewart DC. Curricular and clinical approaches to addressing the opioid epidemic: Results from the 2019 ADEA opioid dental school survey. J Dent Educ. 2020;1:9.

1 Weiner S. COVID-19 and the opioid crisis: When a pandemic and an epidemic collide. At: www.aamc.org/news-insights/covid-19-and-opioid-crisis-when-pandemic-and-epidemic-collide. Accessed: Aug. 5, 2020.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding the Epidemic. At: www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html. Accessed: Aug 4, 2020.
3 Harbaugh CM, Nalliah RP, Hu HM, Englesbe MJ, Waljee JF, Brummett CM. Persistent opioid use after wisdom tooth extraction. JAMA 2018;320(5):504-506.


Published on December 9, 2020

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