Vol 14, No 4 (2020)
Research paper
Published online: 2020-09-28

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Knowledge of medical students on the use of opioids in the management of pain in patients receiving palliative care

Bogumił Olczak1, Grzegorz Kowalski12, Sylwia Kropińska2, Wojciech Leppert2, Katarzyna Wieczorowska-Tobis2
Palliat Med Pract 2020;14(4):247-252.


Introduction. Pre- and post-graduate education, provided for many years, has quite significantly changed
the perception of the role of opioids in the treatment of patients with pain, mainly chronic pain. However,
research on the knowledge of students on opioids has not been conducted, which makes it difficult to
implement desired changes in educational programmes. The aim of the paper was to evaluate the knowledge
of medical students on selected opioid drugs: tramadol, buprenorphine and oxycodone, based on
a survey filled in after one-week classes in palliative medicine and pain management.
Respondents and methods. The study included 140 fourth-year students of medicine at the University of
Medical Sciences in Poznań who completed one-week classes in palliative medicine and pain management.
Their knowledge on opioid analgesics was checked using an anonymous survey that included 7 statements.
Results. Students demonstrated better knowledge in statements regarding theoretical aspects of the use
of specific opioids and their mechanisms of action. The percentage of correct answers in the group of
statements concerning the availability of specific opioid analgesics was much lower, which confirms that
they have less knowledge in this area.
Conclusions. Paying attention to the characteristics of specific opioids should improve the individual selection,
effectiveness and safety of treatment. Better knowledge on pain management among students,
doctors and the general public may dispel their concerns about using opioid analgesics as well as increase
the effectiveness of pain management and improve the quality of life of patients with cancer and chronic
pain in palliative care.

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Palliative Medicine in Practice