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FRIDAY, Jan. 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Disseminating an educational brochure improves disposal of unused opioids after surgery, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Jessica M. Hasak, M.P.H., from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues surveyed eligible surgery patients from an upper extremity/peripheral nerve clinic (from February to September 2017). Patients were assigned to either receive (170 participants) or not receive (164 participants) an educational brochure on opioids, including how to dispose of unused medication after surgery.

The researchers observed a significant increase in the proportion of patients who disposed of their unused opioids among the group receiving the brochure (11 versus 22 percent; P = 0.02). However, in patients who disposed of their unused opioids, there was no significant difference in the proportion of people from each group who did so in a recommended way (43 versus 64 percent; P = 0.19).

"This low-cost, easily implemented intervention can improve disposal of unused opioids and ultimately, decrease the amount of excess opioids circulating in our communities," the authors write.

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Updated on May 28, 2022

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