Shared Decision-Making Tool for Opioid Prescribing After Ambulatory Orthopedic Surgery in Veterans: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial

Rajshri Bolson, Andy Lalka, Hannah Korrell, Sarah E. Sibbel, Karsten Bartels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: We examined whether an educational, shared-decision-making tool designed to empower patients, individualize pain management, and maximize use of nonopioid, over-the-counter analgesics reduces opioid use and waste while maintaining adequate pain relief. Methods: We developed an educational, shared-decision-making tool regarding postoperative pain medication for outpatient hand surgery. Patients randomized to groups with and without the tool were surveyed for 4 weeks after surgery. Survey variables included Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System pain intensity and pain interference scores, as well as the number of oxycodone or over-the-counter pills taken. Results were compared using chi-squared, Wilcoxon rank-sum, and Welch's t tests. Results: Fifty-three patients participated: 25 in the shared-tool group and 28 in the no-tool group. The mean age was 60 years, with more women in the no-tool group than the shared-tool group (n =17 versus 11, respectively). The shared-tool group averaged 6.4 prescribed oxycodone pills, versus 10 for the no-tool group (P < .01). The median numbers of oxycodone pills taken the first week after surgery were 2 (interquartile range, 6) for the shared-tool group and 3 (interquartile range, 6) for the no-tool group (P = .97). Patient-reported outcome measures for pain intensity and pain interference were not significantly different for weeks 1, 3, and 4 after surgery. Pain interference was significantly lower in week 2 in the shared-tool group (difference, −4.4; 95% confidence interval, −8.57 to −0.30; P = .04). Conclusions: The shared-tool group had equivalent or better pain control and were prescribed a lower number of opioid pain pills than the no-tool group. Both groups used nonopioid medications, with no difference in the types of over-the-counter medications used. Shared decision-making strategies could be applied to other outpatient orthopedic surgical settings, and may reduce the amount of opioids prescribed without compromising pain control. Type of study/level of evidence: Therapeutic II.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-200
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery Global Online
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Hand surgery
  • Opioids
  • Pain management
  • Shared decision-making
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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