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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Patient Willingness to Dispose of Leftover Opioids After Surgery: A Mixed Methods Study.

Draper P, Bleicher J, Kobayashi JK, Stauder EL, Stoddard GJ, Johnson JE, Cohan JN, Kaphingst KA, Harris AHS, Huang LC. Patient Willingness to Dispose of Leftover Opioids After Surgery: A Mixed Methods Study. Annals of surgery open : perspectives of surgical history, education, and clinical approaches. 2022 Dec 1; 3(4):e223.

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We examined how convenience and financial incentives influence patient willingness to dispose of leftover prescription opioids after surgery. We also identified additional barriers and facilitators to disposal. BACKGROUND: In the United States, up to 70% of surgical patients are prescribed opioids and up to 92% will have leftover tablets. Most do not dispose of leftover opioids, increasing the risk for opioid-related harm. Current interventions promoting opioid disposal have shown mixed success. METHODS: We conducted a mixed methods study using a standard gamble survey and semi-structured interviews. Participants estimated willingness to dispose in 16 scenarios with varying convenience (time requirements of < 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes) and financial incentives ($0, $5, $25, $50). We estimated the likelihood of disposal using a multivariable mixed effects modified Poisson regression model. Semi-structured interviews explored how convenience, financial incentives, and other barriers and facilitators influenced decisions to dispose. RESULTS: Fifty-five participants were surveyed and 42 were interviewed. Most were willing to dispose when the time required was < 15 minutes. Few were willing to dispose if the process required 60 minutes, although a $50 financial incentive increased rates from 9% to 36%. Anxiety about future pain, opioid scarcity, recreational use, family safety, moral beliefs, addiction, theft, and environmental harm also influenced decision-making. CONCLUSIONS: Interventions promoting opioid disposal should focus on convenience, but the selective use of financial incentives can be effective. Tailoring interventions to individual barriers and facilitators could also increase disposal rates.

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