Kimberly Sanders, Pharm.D.
Kimberly Sanders, Pharm.D.

The North Carolina Area Health Education Centers awarded an Innovation Grant to Kimberly Sanders, Pharm.D., a clinical assistant professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, to develop a training program for acute-care opioid prescribing.

The $43,398 grant will allow Sanders and her team of collaborators from across the UNC health sciences programs to create and disseminate an interdisciplinary educational toolkit for health-care providers.

Patients receiving opioids for pain control after surbery are particularly vulnerable to dependence due to excessive prescribing of opioids, gaps in follow-up and inadequate disposal of excess supply of pills, Sanders said.

Tens of millions of patients are prescribed opioids after surgery, and between 5 and 15 percent of those patients may develop dependence, according to data cited in Sanders’ grant application. Additionally, 40 to 70 percent of their opioid pills aren’t taken and can be diverted to someone else and abused.

Sanders said she and her collaborators agree that improved training programs for prescribers of opioids will help lessen the risk of contributing to opioid misuse and reduce the number of extra pills in circulation.

“The purpose of our project is to develop, refine and disseminate educational content and community resources to support responsible acute-care opioid prescribing,” Sanders said. “We are aiming to develop programs that help prevent dependence from occurring rather than focusing on strategies aimed at managing opioid addiction after it has occurred.”

Sanders’ project will include online educational seminars for health sciences students and an online module for providers. She hopes to complete the evaluation of the educational programs by June 2019. She is one of 18 AHEC Innovation Grant winners for 2018–19, a list that also includes the School’s Delesha Carpenter, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., and Jacqui McLaughlin, Ph.D.

Sanders’ research group is made up of health-care researchers from the UNC Schools of Medicine, Social Work, Nursing and Dentistry, as well as the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

“With this diverse group of medical professionals, our project can have a true interdisciplinary focus,” Sanders said. “We believe bringing together providers from UNC and AHEC, as well as leaders in interprofessional education from various medical fields, is a departure from the status quo in opioid prescription research.”

Along with Sanders, the investigators for this project include:

North Carolina AHEC provides education programs and services for state health-care professionals across nine regional centers, with a focus on underserved populations.

Keywords: AHEC, Kimberly Sanders, Melanie Livet, opioid, acute care, opioid abuse, prescription

 

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