The Need

Prescription opioid misuse is an important public health concern associated with substance use disorder and fatal overdose. Pennsylvania has been disproportionately impacted by the opioid crisis: In 2017, the rate of drug-related overdose deaths in Pennsylvania was almost double the national rate.

Using the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and standardized screening questionnaires, prescribers can gain valuable information that can improve clinical decision-making. However, many prescribers are not confident when talking with patients about opioids, other substance use, and how to connect to addiction treatment resources.

The Solution

Beginning in 2017, the Pennsylvania PDMP Office partnered with IRETA to offer an educational curriculum for prescribers on safer opioid prescribing and how to address substance use with patients. Fayette and Washington counties were identified as high-risk areas for opioid addiction and overdose. Between 2018-2019, 13 more Pennsylvania counties were added as target areas.

IRETA collaborated with medical societies, hospitals, and other practices in the target areas, setting up free face-to-face trainings for doctors and other medical professionals who prescribe opioids. The presentations were led by expert trainers on the subjects of safer opioid prescribing, Motivational Interviewing, and conducting warm handoffs from medical settings to addiction treatment.

Participating prescribers could earn Continuing Medical Education credits and fulfill Pennsylvania’s Act 124 opioid prescribing requirements. All in attendance had the opportunity to discuss prescribing practices with experts and peers.

In addition to the in-person trainings, the educational modules are also housed on TRAIN-PA, where any Pennsylvania health provider may access the materials at their convenience. IRETA contributed to the creation of these on-demand online modules.

The Results

As of February 2019, IRETA has delivered seven trainings across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, educating over 100 physicians, nurses, and advanced practice practitioners.

Here’s what training site coordinators have had to say about about the trainings:

  • “Thank you for setting everything up. The doctors were very pleased with the training. We would be happy to work with you again to set up other programs.”
  • “[We’re] looking forward to working with you again.”
  • “I was telling several colleagues here at Allegheny County Medical Society about the great program Washington County Medical Society had. I hope that [we] can work something out on the valuable topic. I look forward to seeing a future program.”


Starting in April 2019, IRETA will be focusing solely on delivering trainings in Fayette and Washington Counties.

Parties interested in hosting a training should contact Abby Bartus at or 412-258-8567.