Most Primary Care Physicians Are Aware Of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs But Many Find The Data Difficult To Access
Author: Lainie Rutkow, Lydia Turner, Eleanor Lucas, Catherine Hwang, G. Caleb Alexander
State prescription drug monitoring programs are common tools intended to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion, or the nonmedical use of a prescribed drug. The success of these programs depends largely upon physicians’ awareness and use of them. We conducted a nationally representative mail survey of 1,000 practicing primary care physicians in 2014 to characterize their attitudes toward and awareness and use of prescription drug monitoring programs. A total of 420 eligible physicians (adjusted response rate: 58 percent) returned completed surveys. Among all physicians surveyed, 72 percent were aware of their state’s prescription drug monitoring program, and 53 percent reported using one of the programs. We identified several barriers that may prevent greater use of the programs, including the time-consuming nature of information retrieval and the lack of an intuitive format for data provided by the programs. These results suggest that the majority of US primary care physicians are aware of and use prescription drug monitoring programs at least on occasion, although many did not access these programs routinely. To increase the use of the programs in clinical practice, states should consider implementing legal mandates, investing in prescriber education and outreach, and taking measures to enhance ease of access to and use of the programs.