Purpose/objectives: Dental educators have played a critical role in addressing the opioid public health crisis.
Methods: The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) conducted a semi-structured survey with all 66 accredited U.S. dental schools in 2019. The survey was organized into four modules to facilitate response and descriptive statistics and qualitative thematic analyses were performed.
Results: Seventy percent of the dental schools consented to participate. Each module varied in response rate: curricular (Module 1, 48%), clinical (Module 2, 47%), implemented curricular/clinical changes (Module 3, 56%), and willingness to participate in future studies (Module 4, 47%). 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. Schools reported two factors that most frequently influence changes made: the adoption of state-specific regulations/mandates and the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) Standard 2-24e, which requires competency in prescription practices on substance use disorders. An analysis of the open-ended questions found four overarching themes to curricular changes, in order of frequency: didactic curriculum; integration of opioid epidemic subject matter experts in curricula; Screening, Brief, Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) training; and prescription guidelines. Similarly, four overarching themes were identified for clinical changes: protocol and policy development, Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP), faculty and provider education, and prescription guidelines.
Conclusions: This research shows that dental educators are working to ensure that new dental professionals gain the necessary competencies in substance abuse, specifically related to opioids, to prevent and minimize prescription drug misuse.