Substance abuse education in residency training programs in emergency medicine

Ellen H. Taliaferro, Douglas A. Rund, Charles G. Brown, Lewis R. Goldfrank, Robert C. Jorden, Louis J. Ling, Michael E. Gallery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emergency department is the focal point for many social ills, not the least of which is substance abuse. We conducted a study to determine to what degree substance abuse education is taught in emergency medicine residency training programs. A set of educational objectives was developed by a task force composed of representatives of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Society of Teachers of Emergency Medicine, and the University Association for Emergency Medicine. A questionnaire then was sent to the directors of all emergency medicine residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to determine the degree to which those objectives are covered in residency training. A 62% response rate was achieved. The data revealed that such topics as narcotic prescription law, patterns of risk, and issues pertaining to substance abuse by physicians were covered by fewer than half of the programs responding. Respondents were generally satisfied with the adequacy of training of residents and faculty in the area of substance abuse; however, they were dissatisfied with the adequacy of available training materials. Recommendations for changes in graduate curriculum as well as avenues for further research are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1344-1347
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1989

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
It is clear from these data that residency directors find the current teaching materials to be inadequate. Resources should be directed toward developing appropriate teaching materials that address the objectives identified. Materials have been developed on substance abuse in other disciplines, and much of this material could be adapted to emergency medicine. ACEP has developed a catalog of existing teaching materials that relate to substance abuse objectives in emergency medicine. This work was conducted under a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and is disseminated through ACEP.


  • education
  • residency
  • substance abuse


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