Pain Management Pearls: Opioids and Culture

Pain affects all domains of life, and clinicians have few effective tools at their disposal to help these patients. Opioids remain the strongest group of analgesic drugs available. Millions of patients are safely and effectively maintained on relatively high-dose opioids for chronic, severe pain and require these medications to function. However, opioids, like many medications, have serious risks and should not be treated like a cure-all. This dichotomy has resulted in many patients for whom opioid analgesics are appropriate increasingly experiencing barriers to pain relief. At greatest risk of unrelieved pain from stigma and bias are children, the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, active duty or military veterans, and those with cancer, HIV, or sickle cell disease. Pain undertreatment in African American patients is especially widespread. As a result, prescribers, dispensers, and administrators would benefit from considering both the tenets of appropriate opioid prescribing and the impact of culture on experiences of pain and effective pain management.

The purpose of this course is to increase clinicians' knowledge and awareness of the appropriate prescription of opioids and the impact of culture on issues of pain and pain management in order to improve the provision of care and patients' quality of life.


Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss characteristics of appropriate and inappropriate opioid prescribing and contributory factors to both.
  2. Outline the appropriate periodic review and monitoring of patients prescribed opioid analgesics.
  3. Describe necessary components of patient/ caregiver education for prescribed opioid analgesics, including guidance on the safe use and disposal of medications.
  4. Analyze how culture, race and ethnicity influence how pain is defined, expressed, and experienced.

Additional Information

Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
  • 2.00 ANCC
Course opens: 
Course expires: 

Available Credit

  • 2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
  • 2.00 ANCC


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This course is offered through NetCE.

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