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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Feasibility of Tablet Computer Screening for Opioid Abuse in the Emergency Department


Introduction: Tablet computer-based screening may have the potential for detecting patients at risk for opioid abuse in the emergency department (ED). Study objectives were a) to determine if the revised Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain (SOAPP®-R), a 24-question previously paper-based screening tool for opioid abuse potential, could be administered on a tablet computer to an ED patient population; b) to demonstrate that >90% of patients can complete the electronic screener without assistance in <5 minutes and; c) to determine patient ease of use with screening on a tablet computer.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional convenience sample study of patients seen in an urban academic ED. SOAPP®-R was programmed on a tablet computer by study investigators. Inclusion criteria were patients ages ≥18 years who were being considered for discharge with a prescription for an opioid analgesic. Exclusion criteria included inability to understand English or physical disability preventing use of the tablet.

Results: 93 patients were approached for inclusion and 82 (88%) provided consent. Fifty-two percent (n=43) of subjects were male; 46% (n=38) of subjects were between 18-35 years, and 54% (n=44) were >35 years. One hundred percent of subjects completed the screener. Median time to completion was 148 (interquartile range 117.5-184.3) seconds, and 95% (n=78) completed in <5 minutes. 93% (n=76) rated ease of completion as very easy.

Conclusions: It is feasible to administer a screening tool to a cohort of ED patients on a tablet computer. The screener administration time is minimal and patient ease of use with this modality is high. [West J Emerg Med. 2015;16(1):–0.]

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