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The perception of barriers concerning opioid medicines: A survey examining differences between policy makers, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
  • M.J.M. Vranken
  • L. Linge-Dahl
  • A.K. Mantel-Teeuwisse
  • L. Radbruch
  • M.-H.D.B. Schutjens
  • W. Scholten
  • S. Payne
  • S. Jünger
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>23/12/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Palliative Medicine
Number of pages11
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date23/12/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In many countries, the consumption of opioid medicines is too low to meet population needs. Discussions within the Access To Opioid Medication in Europe project indicated that there may be significant differences in the perception of barriers for their adequate use, depending on the stakeholders.

The aim of this study was to examine the perception of barriers and their impact concerning opioid medicines, comparing policy makers, healthcare professionals working in the field of pain management, palliative care or harm reduction and other stakeholders.

Data were collected using a questionnaire partially constructed from existing surveys, reviewed for content validity by four experts and pilot-tested in Latvia.

Participants of the Access to Opioid Medication in Europe national conferences were invited to complete the questionnaire. Stakeholder groups were compared using non-parametric rank-sum tests.

In total, 199 participants (54%) in seven countries completed the questionnaire. Most frequently rated major barriers included lack of financial resources and inadequate knowledge, skills and training among policy makers (55%–66%). Overall, policy makers perceived issues less often as major barriers or having major impact (29% barrier, 32% impact) compared to other stakeholders (36%–42% barrier, 39%–51% impact). Significant differences were seen on several aspects. For example, excessive regulation or bureaucracy for prescribing was rated as having major impact by 55%–57% of healthcare professionals in contrast to only 20% of the policy makers (p = 0.002).

Multiple barriers may play an important role, partly depending on the perspective of the stakeholder involved. Hence, when addressing perceived barriers, it is important to include all relevant stakeholder groups. Only then, effective and widely supported solutions can be implemented.