Graduation Year


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Primary Major


Thesis Advisor

Patricia Harris, PhD, RN


Up to one in four patients undergoing prolonged opioid therapy in a primary care setting battle opioid addiction. In 2020, the CDC found that more than 16,000 deaths involving prescription opioids (limited to natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone) had occurred, which is equivalent to about 45 deaths per day. Opioid overdose death can be identified through three distinct waves; increased prescribing of opioids in the 1990’s began the first wave, the beginning of the second wave came in 2010 with a rapid increase in heroin related overdose deaths, and in 2013 the third wave began with a significant increase in synthetic opioid related overdose deaths, specifically fentanyl related which is illicitly manufactured (CDC, 2021).

To better understand how the medical system contributes to opioid misuse and addictions, a literature review was conducted. The studies showed that many physicians feel like they are lacking adequate education to prescribe opioids, and often do not do any type of screening for patients to see if they have struggled with prescription misuse or addiction in the past. After looking at potential causes and solutions for excessive opioid prescription in the health care system, it appears that health care providers with more education on opioids prescribed less than those without. The studies also showed that health care providers with more education in emergency medicine, and health care providers that implemented patient screenings also prescribed less opioids overall.

Our goal is to understand how the medical system contributes to prescription opioid misuse and addiction and what interventions medical professionals can implement to aid in supporting those with opioid use disorders and addictions. Therefore, based on our Literature Review findings, a study to examine the issue further is proposed.