Tackling pain medication and opioid dependency
Painkillers Don’t Exist is a behaviour change campaign to raise awareness of pain medication dependency and reduce prescription rates. Tackling the spectrum of opioid use – from low level use to addiction – the campaign combines awareness raising with educational resources supporting people with alternative pain management.
The campaign has two main audiences. In addition to supporting patients and their families, the campaign offers resources to help GPs, Practice Managers, Pharmacists and Physios in their conversations with patients.
2019 - Present
North East and North Cumbria ICB, Leeds Health and Care Partnership, NHS East of England region
Scope of work
- Campaign development & activation
- Co-production, engagement and community representation
- Lived experience storytelling
- Stakeholder engagement
- Training and toolkit development
- UX and website development
What we did
Now in its third year, Painkillers Don’t Exist raises awareness of the issues and dangers surrounding long-term use of high-dose, opioid pain medication, and educates and supports people about pain management.
The campaign has been designed to allow those who are addicted to painkillers to feel empowered to seek support, and those prescribing to grow in confidence to suggest alternative recovery plans in order to reduce the number of the painkillers prescribed.
Magpie co-created and developed this cut-through campaign brand and core messages, informed by behavioural science and the COM-B model for behaviour change.
Initially launched in Sunderland, Painkillers was developed following insight with GPs and patients in the region to gain a more thorough understanding of the issues and the impact of painkiller addiction on real-life people. County Durham soon joined the campaign when it saw a dramatic 34% reduction in the use of prescription pain medication.
The campaign focus is predominantly on primary care and its patients. Information and resources, along with campaign materials, support GPs, Practice Managers, pharmacists, physios and also includes patient-facing material.
The campaign used a range of methods to reach the target public audience including:
- Innovative affordable PR stunts such as sand art and pavement graffiti, with the PR reaching national media
- Digital media such as animations, social media graphics and a targeted messaging campaign
- Newsletters and posters in GP practices
- A website updated with information and lived experience case studies at painkillersdontexist.com
Significantly reducing opioid prescriptions and transforming health communications.
reduction in opioid prescriptions in Sunderland. Source: NHS prescribing data available from OpenPrescribing
page views since campaign launch
reduction in opioid prescriptions in Durham
“The work we’ve done with Magpie has been transformational. Not just in the individual projects and the effects on the population we serve, but on the whole philosophy of medicines use and improving outcomes. Healthcare can’t be managed or mandated through a guideline, a document or a webinar. Quality healthcare comes from understanding the people and the communities and the things that drive behaviour. Magpie helped us realise that and gave us the insights to design and deliver our strategic approach.”
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