Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

David Festinger, PhD

Second Advisor

Stephen Poteau, PhD

Third Advisor

David Rubenstein, PsyD


Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a mental health condition that has high personal, societal, and emotional costs. Opioid use disorder, misuse, and abuse is a national epidemic. Many factors have contributed to the increased use of opioids and OUD. One such factor is the heightened emphasis on pain management in the medical community, one that that began nearly two decades ago. This has led to increased prescribing of opioid-based medication for chronic pain patients. This contributed in part to the development of OUD in many individuals who became addicted to opioids. For this reason, current guidelines discourage the use of opioid-based pain medication for chronic pain under most conditions. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relationship between physician characteristics (i.e. length of time since graduation, physician specialty), and opioid knowledge and opioid/non-opioid treatment recommendations for the treatment of chronic pain. It was hypothesized that, in light of the heightened emphasis on opioid use and pain management using non-opioid alternatives, physicians who graduated more recently would have greater opioid knowledge and will recommend more alternative chronic pain treatment strategies. The present study included 49 physicians who were contacted through social media and email. Responding physicians were asked to complete multiple measures, following a brief screening for inclusion. They were then asked to read a brief vignette involving a patient experiencing chronic pain and to select from a list of all treatment recommendations that they would endorse. Finally, they were asked to complete a brief opioid knowledge survey developed for this study and a demographic questionnaire. Results revealed no significant association between year of graduation, physician specialty, age, race, or biological sex on opioid knowledge or use of non-opioid alternative treatments. Future research using a larger sample size, with different specialties, or looking at differences between medical degree (allopathic vs. osteopathic) may yield more significant findings.