Increasing the capacity of community pharmacy for screening, brief intervention and referral for treatment of pharmaceutical opioid use disorders

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Dr Suzanne Nielsen
Senior Research Fellow
Project Main Description: 

This translational research project will embed screening, brief intervention and referral into community pharmacy practice, in addition to establishing clear referral pathways with primary, secondary and tertiary treatment service

Project Collaborators: External: 

Marina Hanna
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Paul Jones
Pharmacy Guild

Lesley Brydon

Hester Wilson
South Eastern Sydney Local Health District

Primary Health Care Networks
Morgan Irvine


Dramatic increases in opioid use have been observed in Australia, and many parts of the North America and Europe. This increase has been associated with growing evidence of harms including morbidity, mortality and dependence. While there are indications that increasing numbers of people are seeking treatment for both prescribed and over-the-counter opioids, the growth in treatment represents only a fraction of the estimated number of people who experience problems pharmaceutical opioid use. While much work has focus on the role of GPs, pharmacists represent an understudied yet highly skilled group of health professionals that have an important role to play in addressing prescribed and over-the-counter opioid dependence.


Effective treatments are available for pharmaceutical opioid dependence, though the people that need them are rarely identified to receive them. Mortality from pharmaceutical opioids exceeds that from heroin by two-fold. Those with chronic pain are prevalent in mortality data, yet little focus has been placed on changing policy and practice to respond to their treatment needs. This project aims to address this gap.


This project aims to test a pilot a model of care which will include screening, referral and treatment. Following evaluation and refinement of this initial model further dissemination and implementation will occur.

Design and Method: 

Translational research study.


Initial advisory committee meeting in late March 2017.

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