Published 4/1/2017
Sheryl Cash

New AAOS PSAs Tackle Opioid Misuse, Childhood Obesity

During the AAOS Annual Meeting, the Academy unveiled its two new 2017 public service announcement (PSA) campaigns on prescription safety and the dangers of opioid misuse, and the vital role families play in combatting childhood obesity by promoting exercise and bone health in children.

The PSAs were distributed to more than 5,000 media, including television and radio stations, print publications, and outdoor billboard/sign companies.

“These campaigns tackle two societal epidemics that are threatening the nation's orthopaedic and overall health,” said AAOS President William J. Maloney, MD.

“Childhood obesity has lifelong effects on musculoskeletal health, and the overprescribing and misuse of opioid pain medications has led to devastating consequences,” he added.

Prescription safety
The U.S. is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, with millions of people dependent on or addicted to prescription painkillers such as codeine, morphine, oxymorphone, tramadol, hydrocodone or oxycodone. Numerous studies and alarming data have exposed the dangers of opioid misuse. For example, a 2016 Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that one in three patients (34 percent) who recently took opioids for at least 2 months reported being addicted to or dependent on the drugs. In addition, patients taking opioids prior to surgery have greater postoperative pain, and face a higher risk of pneumonia, oversedation, and even death.

To highlight the potential dangers of opioids, AAOS has launched a multimedia campaign that includes print and radio ads, urging doctors and patients to exercise caution when prescribing and taking opioids. The ads complement the Academy's other proactive prescription safety efforts, including the following:

  • The new Pain Relief Toolkit, available to members at AAOS.org/Quality/PainReliefToolkit. The online resource includes pre- and postoperative discussion talking points on pain relief, common pain relief solutions, orthopaedic and emergency department opioid strategies, a questionnaire for determining patient opioid addiction risk, and safe use storage and disposal strategies/resources.
  • The revised AAOS information statement, “Opioid Use, Misuse, and Abuse in Orthopaedic Practice.”
  • Ongoing participation as one of 25 association/society members of the American Medical Association Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse.

The AAOS prescription safety print ad carries the message, “Painkillers are easy to get into. Hard to escape,” with the image of a man trapped inside a prescription bottle. The ads were distributed to hundreds of outdoor media signs and displays throughout the United States.

The 30- and 60-second radio spots, created in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA), emphasize the importance of moderation in prescribing opioids. Both radio ads feature a patient asking for additional prescription pain killers to combat knee pain. The patient's orthopaedic surgeon responds: “We're being very careful with prescription painkillers. Let's continue with therapy and off-the-shelf anti-inflammatories for now.”

The ad concludes with the message: “Prescription painkillers are America's newest epidemic causing abuse and addiction for millions. The smaller the dose prescribed and taken, the better.”

According to OTA President Steven Olson, MD, keeping the lines of communication open between surgeon and patient regarding the use of prescription opioid or narcotic pain medications is more important than ever before.

“OTA members recognize that injuries can be painful, often requiring short-term, controlled use of opioid medications. However, opioid medications are nearly always provided as one piece of the overall strategy to treat pain. Other medications such as acetaminophen and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as other modalities such as ice, heat, and exercise are just as important,” said Dr. Olson."

“It is our responsibility to educate and advise our patients as to how they can manage their pain and how to properly use opioid pain medications,” he continued. “We encourage patients to take the responsibility for carefully following these instructions to lessen the risk of harm and addiction.”

The multimedia campaign directs patients to the Academy's patient information website OrthoInfo.org/PrescriptionSafety.

Members who are interested in obtaining a free poster-size version of the Prescription Safety ad for their offices can visit http://bit.ly/1X8Fk78, click on the red “Store” button at AAOS.org and type in “posters” in the search bar, or contact AAOS Customer Service or call 800-626-6726.  

The importance of active families
Exercise and activity during childhood, along with a nutritious diet, are critical for building strong bones and maintaining a healthy body weight—not just in childhood, but for life. The more bone mass created during childhood and adolescence, the greater the chance of preventing osteoporosis and related fractures later in life. Unfortunately, video games, technology, screen time, and busy schedules result in fewer opportunities for exercise in today's children and adolescents.

To emphasize the need for kids to stay healthy and active, AAOS and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) created a new video ad that humorously features grandparents introducing various outdoor activities to their technology-focused grandson. The video is funny, but also sends an important message: Parents, grandparents, and families can play an important role in encouraging healthy behaviors in children.

The new 2017 PSA campaigns include a print ad that highlights the dangers of opioid misuse (top) and a new video ad that humorously features grandparents introducing various outdoor activities to their technology-focused grandson.

“You're going to love your new birthday present. Are you ready?” a grandfather says as he uncovers his grandson's eyes in the new video. “It's a teeter totter.”

The child looks unimpressed and returns to his electronic game. Eventually, after several funny and unsuccessful attempts to introduce outdoor activities to their grandson, the grandparents take him to the park for a walk. The video ends with the boy and a friend on the teeter totter with the reminder: “For strong bones, activity runs in the family.” For more information, viewers are directed to OrthoInfo.org/ActiveFamilies

“Children are more likely to be healthy and active if their parents and family are active, and active children are less likely to be obese,” said Jennifer M. Weiss, MD, chair of POSNA's Communication Council. “People of all ages are encouraged to spend at least 45 minutes a day engaging in physical activity. This is important for our heart and lungs, but also for our bone and muscle strength. Creating this habit early leads to healthier body weight and a lower risk of bone problems throughout life. So get up, get out, and get moving as a family!”

The PSA campaigns complement the new Communities in Motion event that took place at the AAOS Annual Meeting in San Diego, and the new online resource for physicians and patients at ANationInMotion.org/Communities. The Communities in Motion virtual park features links, according to body part, with educational materials, and animated exercises and other tips for staying healthy and injury free.

“These campaigns provide important reminders to our patients and their families about two prevalent health risks that are adversely affecting millions of Americans,” said Dr. Maloney. “We're pleased that POSNA and OTA have joined us in promoting these important messages.”

Sheryl Cash is the manager, media relations, for AAOS public and media relations. She can be reached at scash@aaos.org