A Problem-Based Learning Case on Prescription Drug Abuse - Patient S.K.


Examines prescription drug abuse and offers a case study to help students understand the screening and diagnostic tools available for alcohol and drug abuse.

Resource Materials


Developer: Tufts University School of Medicine (Massachusetts Consortium)

Curriculum resource type: Problem-based learning (PBL)

Method used: Facilitated discussion groups

Intended audience: Preclinical medical students

Implementation time: Up to four 2-hour PBL discussion group sessions; optional research questions for home study

Additional components: Facilitator guide; student PBL evaluation tool

Educational objectives:

  • Describe the different types of pain and their mechanisms.
  • Understand the role of opioids in the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain.
  • Review the decision-making process used to determine whether patients with chronic pain should be treated in the hospital or as outpatients.
  • Know available screening tools and diagnostic tests for alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Evaluation tools: Facilitators fill out case evaluation feedback tool; students complete PBL evaluation online.

Curriculum resource description: This PBL case addresses the need to cover prescription drug abuse-related issues in the preclinical medical school curriculum. It is based on the true story and case report of a patient; however, considerable material has been added that was not present in the original case report. This additional material was created to satisfy the pedagogic needs and objectives of PBL and addiction medicine courses for preclinical medical students.

Key words: Drug abuse; drug addiction; substance abuse; prescription drug abuse; motivational interviewing