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Educational Intervention Changes College Students’ Attitudes toward Prescription Opioid Drug Use

People using prescription opioid drugs for non-medical reasons has become a growing problem across the country. Interventions provided to college aged students is important because opioid use during this time has been previously found to be linked to future drug abuse and other risky behaviors. The current study examines if an educational intervention impacts college student’s attitudes towards prescription opioid drugs.

To complete this study 242 participants were recruited, and four questionnaires were given to the students to complete. The first asked about demographics, opioid use, and if they knew people addicted to prescription opioids. Researchers also presented a short story to participants about a character struggling with back pain. Questionnaire 2 (Q2) was then given immediately after the story which asked about non-medical use of prescription opioid drugs. After this questionnaire the investigators provided a brief educational intervention describing risks and alternative methods to relieve pain. Following the intervention Questionnaire 3 was given (identical to Q2). Questionnaire 4 was given to see which parts of the educational intervention was most effective.

Overall, the educational intervention succeeded in changing responses to Q2 which asked questions such as “I would finish a prescription of prescription opioid drugs regardless of pain.” At the end of the study the number of participants that agreed with risks provided increased from 75% to 81%. The researchers also found that participants rated information about personal risk as more influential in changing their responses than education about alternative therapies or general healthcare cost. This study provided insight into how educational intervention may be beneficial for college students. These interventions may be most beneficial if they focus on risks associated with prescription opioid use.

Take Away: Misuse of prescription opioid drugs for non-medical reasons is a problem across the country. The current study examines if an educational intervention impacts college student’s attitudes towards prescription opioid drugs. Four questionnaires were given to 242 college student participants. They asked about their thoughts surrounding non-medical use of prescription opioid drugs. A brief education intervention was provided between the questionnaires.  What the researchers found was that the brief intervention did in fact impact participants responses and that they also rated information about personal risks as the most influential education. This shows that interventions that focus on personal risks behind opioid use may be beneficial for college students.

Johnson, E. C., Huffman, A. E., Yoder, H. A., Bordelon, N. M., Sewczak-Claude, G., & Smith, D. T. (2019). Educational Intervention Changes College Students’ Attitudes toward Prescription Opioid Drug Use. Substance Use & Misuse, 1–10. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2019.1673418

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