Feasibility and acceptability of virtual academic detailing on opioid prescribing
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Feasibility and acceptability of virtual academic detailing on opioid prescribing

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  • Alternative Title:
    Int J Med Inform
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  • Description:

    Social distancing requirements during COVID-19 pose a challenge to conducting traditional academic detailing, which typically involves in-person peer education visits to improve patient outcomes. The main alternative is to conduct virtual academic detailing delivered through web-based technology, but this approach is fraught with many challenges. This study aimed to examine the feasibility and acceptability of a virtual academic detailing program implemented among health care providers.


    The academic detailing program focused on appropriate opioid prescribing and chronic non-cancer pain management among a sample of providers. An initial in-person visit was followed by a virtual visit up to 8 weeks later. Videoconferencing was used to conduct the virtual visit with telephone as a backup. Feasibility was assessed whether the virtual visits could happen, and acceptability was assessed by provider satisfaction. Validated measures of Provider Satisfaction with Academic Detailing (PSAD) and Detailer Assessment of Visit Effectiveness (DAVE) with a 5-point Likert-type scale were used. Higher scores corresponded to higher satisfaction and greater perceived effectiveness. Non-parametric and parametric statistical tests were used to compare instrument summary scores across visits and between groups. Pairwise analyses across visits only included instrument responses for providers who participated in both visits and completed both surveys in their entirety.


    There were 127 (90 %) initial in-person visits completed out of 141 visits scheduled, with a survey response rate of 96 %. Out of 120 virtual follow-up visits scheduled, 92 (77 %) were conducted, and 56 surveys (61 %) were collected. There was a high level of satisfaction with the initial and follow up virtual academic detailing visits, though, among providers who participated in both visits and had completed surveys (n = 50), initial visits had slightly higher scores (mean difference = −2.94 [95 % Confidence intervals: −4.38, −1.50], p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in detailer perception across the two visits as seen in the scale summary score (0.05 [−0.56, 0.66], p = 0.86) and two individually reported items related to feasibility (0.07 [−0.29, 0.42], p = 0.72) and conversation (−0.05 [−0.28, 0.17], p = 0.63). Forty-one (44.6 %) virtual visits were conducted using WebEx, where video and screen sharing of visit content was possible, while the remaining 51 (55.4 %) were conducted using a telephone. There was no significant difference in provider satisfaction between WebEx vs. telephone visits (−1.47 [−4.99, 2.05], p = 0.82). Provider satisfaction was also not impacted by any technical difficulties as reported by the detailer (−0.04 [−3.30, 3.38], p = 0.98).


    The results slightly favor in-person visits and suggest that virtual detailing visits need to incorporate strategies that minimize technical difficulties and prevent participants from defaulting to less favorable technology. Future research opportunities include evaluating the effectiveness of a virtual versus in-person delivery of AD program on outcomes such as providers’ opioid prescribing behavior.

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