Older adults experience a higher incidence of persistent pain across chronic disease trajectories and at end-of-life. Data obtained from the NHANES survey indicates that older adults are almost twice as likely to use opioid analgesics compared to younger adults (20-39) for pain management (CDC, 2015). Age-related changes to the body place older adults at a higher risk for adverse events due to an increased sensitivity and reduced clearance of opioids. A lack of education and failure to adequately engage, communicate, and educate providers in evidence-based practices have been found to be barriers to the safe use of pain medications in older adults (FDA, 2010; HHS, 2019).

Providing effective, evidence-based continuing education can reduce serious adverse outcomes resulting from inappropriate prescribing, misuse, and abuse of opioid analgesics, while maintaining patient access to appropriate pain medications for older adults with chronic pain.