Interactive Training Series for Healthcare Providers

Applying CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids

Applying CDC's Guideline for Prescribing Opioids: An Online Training Series for Providers

New Training on PDMPs (Module 13) can help improve coordination of care across healthcare settings and promote safer opioid prescribing and dispensing.

In 2017, almost 57 million American patients had at least one prescription for opioids filled or refilled. The average number of opioid prescriptions per patient was 3.4, and the average days of supply per prescription was 18 days.1 Taking opioids for longer periods of time or in higher doses increases the risk of addiction, overdose, and death. The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain provides recommendations for safer and more effective prescribing of opioids for chronic pain in patients 18 and older in outpatient settings outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

This interactive online training series aims to help healthcare providers apply CDC’s recommendations in clinical settings through patient scenarios, videos, knowledge checks, tips, and resources. Providers can gain a better understanding of the recommendations, the risks and benefits of prescription opioids, nonopioid treatment options, patient communication, and risk mitigation. Each stand-alone module is self-paced and offers free continuing education.

Module and Course # Title and Description


Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Recommendations from CDC Get an overview of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. This module explains the rationale for the Guideline’s creation, highlights key recommendations, and describes the benefits of implementing the Guideline.
2 (WB2859) Treating Chronic Pain Without Opioids Review various options and tools for managing chronic pain. Skills include identifying appropriate nonopioid medications and nonpharmacologic treatments and facilitating a patient-centered approach.


Communicating With Patients Learn communication strategies they can use when treating chronic pain, including motivational interviewing.


Reducing the Risks of Opioids Learn best risk mitigation strategies and when to employ them when prescribing an opioid.


Assessing and Addressing Opioid Use Disorder Learn methods for assessing and addressing an opioid use disorder when it is suspected.


Dosing and Titration of Opioids: How Much, How Long, and How and When to Stop Learn methods for properly dosing and titrating opioids in order to reduce risk of opioid use disorder and overdose


Determining Whether to Initiate Opioids for Chronic Pain Learn mechanisms for deciding if opioids should be prescribed, and next steps for treatment – whether opioid or non-opioid treatments are selected


Implementing CDC’s Opioid Prescribing Guideline into Clinical Practice Learn quality improvement strategies and tools to help incorporate Guideline recommendations into clinical workflow.


Opioid Use and Pregnancy Learn about unique considerations that come with opioid use during pregnancy, and best practices for providing care for both the mother and baby.


Motivational Interviewing Focus on the use of motivational interviewing during the management and treatment of chronic pain, which can enhance patients’ motivation to change behaviors relative to chronic pain conditions. The content includes principles, steps, and best practices.


Collaborative Patient-Provider Relationship in Opioid Clinical Decision Making Learn ways to strengthen the patient-provider relationship and coordinate care with other specialist to support shared-decision making in the use of opioids for chronic pain.


A Nurse’s Call to Action for Safer Opioid Prescribing Practices  Explore how nurses can support the implementation of the CDC Guideline through risk mitigation strategies, quality improvement practices, patient communication techniques, and care coordination.


Using the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to Promote Patient Safety in Opioid Prescribing and Dispensing Explore how healthcare providers (e.g., physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants), state health departments, and prescription drug monitoring program managers can use prescription drug monitoring programs to improve coordination of care across healthcare settings and to promote safer opioid prescribing and dispensing.

Physicians, nurses, and other health professionals can receive free continuing education for each training by registering on CDC Training and Continuing Education (TCE) Online, searching for the corresponding course number, and completing the evaluation.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018 Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes — United States. Surveillance Special Report 2pdf icon. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Published August 31, 2018.
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