Effective Prescribing of Opioids for Chronic Pain

About Effective Prescribing of Opioids for Chronic Pain (EPOCH)

This course is delivered by Pain Canada, a multi-stakeholder initiative supported by Pain BC, in coordination with the University of Toronto.

Effective Prescribing of Opioids for Chronic Pain (formerly “Safer Opioid Prescribing”) is among the longest running opioid CPD programs in the country. It was the first accredited program to offer a curriculum that reflected the updated 2017 Canadian Guideline for Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain. The curriculum reflects the latest and best available evidence for opioid prescribing.

Through engaging discussions and practical activities, the program’s three webinars and capstone workshop ensure that physicians and health care providers have the most up to date skills to effectively support people who live with chronic pain who are prescribed opioids.  

By attending the webinars, learners will better be able to: 

  • Employ multi-modal approaches to complex chronic pain 

  • Initiate & manage effective opioid therapy 

  • Prevent & address opioid use disorder. 

In addition, learners who go on to complete the capstone workshop will better be able to: 

  • Communicate and collaborate with patients and other health care providers to optimize patient care. 

Target audience 

This program is designed for health care professionals from multiple disciplines looking to improve their understanding of complex chronic pain management. It will be of benefit to those who wish to become familiar with important opioid prescribing practice tools, the Canadian Guidelines for Opioids and strategies for effective management of complex chronic pain. 

Program structure 

Effective Prescribing of Opioids for Chronic Pain (EPOCH) has two components: three, two-hour webinars and a day-long workshop. The webinars are focused on increasing knowledge and building essential skills, whereas the workshop will help learners deepen skills and practice.  Learners may opt to only complete the webinars; however, the webinars are a pre-requisite for the workshop (see below for more information).


The webinar portion of this Group Learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 13.5 MainPro+ credits, 2 credits-per-hour. 

The workshop component of this Group Learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 20.25 MainPro+ credits, 3 credits-per-hour.

Program Component 1 – Three interactive webinars  

Learners can purchase all three webinars for $495.00 CAD (for physicians) or $247.50 (for other health care professions and residents). This 2 credit-per-hour Group Learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 13.5 MainPro+ credits.

  1. Assessing and managing complex chronic pain 
    Instructor: Dr. Kathleen Doukas  
    Learning outcomes:  

  • Recognize the complex lived experience of chronic pain. 

  • Complete a comprehensive assessment of patients with chronic pain. 

  • Implement multi-modal approaches to chronic pain management, including opioids where indicated. 

  • Evaluate the utility of different opioids to treat chronic pain. 

  1. Prescribing opioids for chronic pain 
    Instructor: Dr. Meera Harris 
    Learning outcomes: 

  • Initiate opioids for the management of chronic pain. 

  • Evaluate, monitor and support people living with chronic pain who use opioids. 

  • Taper, switch and discontinue opioid therapy when risks outweigh benefits.  

  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to support patients with managing chronic pain. 

  1. Opioids use disorder in primary care 
    Instructor: Dr. Kirsten Dixon 
    Learning outcomes:  

  • Recognize your responsibility to address opioid use disorder (OUD) in your patients. 

  • Diagnose OUD. 

  • Explore how stigma affects people living with OUD. 

  • Discuss OUD treatment with your patients, especially opioid agonist therapy. 


Program component 2 – Capstone workshop, “Challenging Cases in Opioid Use and Misuse”  

This small group problem based interactive workshop builds on the knowledge and expertise shared in the first three webinars. Workshop cost: $695.00 (for physicians) or $347.50 (for other health care providers and residents). Learners who complete the three webinars will be invited to register for the capstone workshop. The workshop will be held twice per year, with at least one offering being virtual. 

Participants who have completed the three prerequisite webinars will be alerted once registration opens for the capstone workshop.

Learning outcomes:  

  • Recognize and address possible risks and complications of opioid prescribing. 

  • Implement clinical skills for safer prescribing of opioids. 

  • Identify Opioid Use Disorder and outline treatment options. 

  • Effectively communicate with chronic pain patients. 


Event collaborators 

  • Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto 

  • University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain 

Listen to our podcast episode on "Effective Prescribing of Opioids for Chronic Pain."



Kathleen Doukas, MD, CCFP, MScCH

Kathleen Doukas, MD, CCFP, MScCH

  • Family Physician and Lecturer, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto.  
  • Hospital Program Director, Undergraduate Education, Family Medicine, St Michael’s Hospital. 
Dr. Meera Harris

Meera Harris, Mb BChir (MD), MPharm, CCFP

  • Lecturer, Dept of Family and Community Medicine, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.
  • Associate Staff Physician, Trillium Health Partners.
  • Staff Physician, University Health Network.  
  • Fellow, University of Cambridge Commonwealth and Overseas Society, United Kingdom 

Dr. Kirsten Dixon

Kirsten Dixon, MD, CCFP 

  • Staff Physician, St. Michael's Hospital 
  • Staff Physician, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Staff Physician, Inner City Health Associates
  • Lead Physician, Seaton House 

Refund/cancellation policy:
  • Tickets are 100% refundable up to 17 days prior to an event, 50 % refundable 16-11 days prior, and non-refundable 10 days prior to the event.
  • In the unlikely event that Pain BC must cancel a workshop, participants will be refunded 100% of the workshop fee. Pain BC is not responsible for any travel, accommodation or other fees incurred by participants as a result of workshop cancellations or rescheduling.