The 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain is in the process of being updated to include new evidence and recommendations on acute, subacute, and chronic pain. The updated clinical practice guideline is intended to help improve communication between healthcare professionals and patients and empower them to make informed, patient-centered decisions related to safer and effective pain care.

Interactive Training Series for Healthcare Providers

Applying CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids

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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.

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.

Each stand-alone module is self-paced. 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.

Newest Training
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Addressing the Opioid Overdose Epidemic in the Emergency Department
Learn strategies for reducing opioid administration and prescribing in the emergency department, recognizing the signs of opioid use disorder (OUD), and initiating treatment for OUD.
Course #WB4431
Module #14

Other Available Trainings

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.
Course #WB4359
Module #13

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.
Course #WB4192
Module #12

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.
Course #WB4033
Module #11

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.
Course #WB2957
Module #10

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.
Course #WB2858
Module #9

Implementing CDC’s Opioid Prescribing Guideline into Clinical Practice
Learn quality improvement strategies and tools to help incorporate Guideline recommendations into clinical workflow.
Course #WB2862
Module #8

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.
Course #WB2860
Module #7

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.
Course #WB2861
Module #6

Assessing and Addressing Opioid Use Disorder
Learn methods for assessing and addressing an opioid use disorder when it is suspected.
Continuing Education is no longer available for this course.
Module #5

Reducing the Risks of Opioids
Learn best risk mitigation strategies and when to employ them when prescribing an opioid.
Continuing Education is no longer available for this course.
Module #4

Communicating With Patients
Learn communication strategies they can use when treating chronic pain, including motivational interviewing.
Course #WB2858
Module #3

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.
Course #WB2859
Module #2

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.
Continuing Education is no longer available for this course.
Module #1


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