Physicians on Surgeon General’s Letter on Opioid Epidemic: Survey Results


On August 25, 2016, the Surgeon General issued a letter to physicians urging them to take a part in combating the opioid epidemic. On the Surgeon General website, healthcare providers are encouraged to help solve the opioid epidemic:

“Our nation faces an opioid crisis. Health care providers are uniquely positioned to help communities and their patients #TurnTheTide on the opioid epidemic. Providers can be the solution. Join the movement. Sign the pledge.”

To gauge whether clinicians would answer this call and how clinicians and the public felt about the Surgeon General’s recommendations to fight the opioid epidemic, the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) conducted a survey to examine perceptions about the Surgeon General’s appeal to physicians to play an active role in stemming the opioid epidemic.

The survey was comprised of 5 key questions:

  1. Please indicate your clinical role, if any.
  2. Have you or will you take the Surgeon General’s pledge?
  3. What do you believe caused the “opioid epidemic”?
  4. Who do you believe should lead the fight against the opioid epidemic?
  5. What tools should doctors have to help fight the opioid epidemic?

The results highlights that the majority of doctors and clinicians agree with the Surgeon General’s letter, with 7 in 10 respondents having, or will, take the pledge.  However, respondents were divided in what has caused the “opioid epidemic”; while over-prescribing of opioids and an overly aggressive emphasis on pain treatment were popular choices, a significant percentage (35%) chose to indicate other reasons.  

What was clear was the sentiment that doctors, rather than government or communities, should be the captains leading the efforts to curb opioid harm.  In order to do so, respondents indicated that an expanded toolset, comprised of educational and screening resources, was needed.

To access a free PDF of the survey results, along with key insights, please fill out the form below.  

Your contact information will not be shared or used for commercial purposes.  Upon completion of the form, a link will appear at the bottom of the page which will allow you to view and download the Surgeon General Report.

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