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A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls on federal agencies to do a better job of coordinating and assessing the effectiveness of their efforts to educate prescribers and the public about prescription drug abuse.

The report notes that while all agencies have established measures to monitor the implementation and functional elements of their education programs, only two agencies have established or are planning to set up ways to evaluate the impact of their efforts on audiences’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior, The Hill reports.

“Without outcome evaluations, federal agencies have limited knowledge of how effective their efforts are in achieving their goals — in this case, reducing prescription pain reliever abuse and misuse,” the report notes.

The Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are among the federal agencies that have programs to educate prescribers about prescription drug abuse. Their strategies include continuing medical education programs, requiring training and certification in order to prescribe certain drugs and developing curriculum resources for future prescribers.

According to the report, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is developing a legislative proposal to require education for prescribers registering with the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances.

The GAO found several instances of agencies engaging in similar efforts, directed at similar audiences, but noted federal agencies have recently begun to coordinate. “Nevertheless, federal agencies have missed opportunities to share lessons learned and pool resources among similar education efforts,” the report stated.

The ONDCP should establish outcome measures and implement a plan to evaluate proposed educational efforts, and ensure that agencies share lessons learned among similar educational programs, the report concluded.


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