First Year Student Pharmacists’ Views on the Opioid Epidemic

*Corresponding author: Bisrat Hailemeskel*, Tegesty Terefe and Keran Sun

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original research


To determine first-year student pharmacists’ views on the opioid epidemic.
First-year pharmacy students were asked to complete an online survey to assess their views and opinions on the current opioid crisis using Likert-scale type questions.
Forty-four pharmacy students were surveyed, and all participants completed survey questions, 100% response rate. Majority of participants were female (N=34, 77.3%), with more than half of participants falling in the age range of 18-24 (N=25, 56.8%). Geographically, most of the participants home residences are in other states out of the DC, Maryland, Virginia (N=25, 56.9%). In addition, majority of participants worked before starting pharmacy school (N=42, 95.5%) and a majority had a pharmacy and health related occupations before pharmacy school (N=36; 81.9%). Most study participants reported an annual income of less than $10,000 (N=17, 38.6%) and obtained a bachelor’s degree (N=26, 59.1%). Majority of participants strongly agree that the opioid epidemic is becoming a severe crisis for society (N=42; 95.5%) and that opioid should be readily available when it is medically necessary to people (N=27; 61.4%). When asked if they know anyone personally who suffers from the opioid crisis, over three-quarter (N=34; 77.3%) said no. However, over two-third (N=29; 65.9%) of participants said that they have taken opioids in the past themselves to relieve pain. Although, almost all of them strongly agree that prescription opioids are addictive (N=42; 95.5.%); about eighty percent (N=35; 79.5%) agree that taking opioids is an effective way to alleviate severe pain.
Our results indicate that pharmacy students perceive the opioid epidemic as a crisis and despite their views that opioids are addictive and knowing someone who suffers from opioid use disorder, they believe opioids are a clinically effective way to alleviate pain.
Survey; Opioids; Epidemic; Students; Pharmacy.