Drug overdose deaths greatly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 100,306 cases occurring in the United States over 12 months from 2020 to 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the year before. Three quarters of these deaths involved opioids, and this epidemic has seriously complicated chronic pain management. The role of nurse practitioners (NPs) in opioid prescription has expanded since Affordable Care Act passage in 2010, but their prescription of opioids for chronic pain management is not well understood.
This integrative review aimed to identify barriers, facilitators, and other factors influencing NPs' management of chronic pain with opioids.
Data sources: :
Five databases were searched for the highest level of evidence in articles published from 2011 to 2021. Search results were refined to focus on NPs' chronic pain management via opioid prescription.
Nine studies were selected for the review. Six identified themes were indicative of barriers, facilitators, and other factors affecting NPs' opioid management: nurse practitioner education, patient subjectivity and patient education, systemic change and alternative treatment access, interprofessional collaboration, nurse practitioner prescriptive authority, and practice environment. States and schools of nursing should modify policy and curricula to better support NPs' opioid management and reduce associated prescription barriers.
Implications for practice:
NPs' opioid management can best be improved by providing them with current guideline-based education regarding opioid prescription, emphasizing patient education, supplying NPs with systemic support, encouraging interprofessional collaboration, and solving the prescriptive authority issues. Enhancing NPs' opioid prescription and chronic pain management knowledge would help to mitigate the opioid epidemic.