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Module 8: Role Playing

August 2012
Author: IHIP




Module 8 is a group activity that allows clinic staff to practice patient- provider role playing with one another. This offers an opportunity for the instructor to identify any communication or cultural competency issues that may need addressing. It also allows clinic staff to familiarize themselves with talking about the issues of addiction and treatment prior to opioid-addiction treatment rollout on a larger scale.

Materials Needed

  • Small strips of paper
  • Writing utensil
  • Clock or watch to time activity.


Have participants count off as "1" or "2." Pair a 1 and a 2. Assign the 1's as patients and the 2's as providers.

If participants wish to switch roles with their partner, allow them to do so. The important part is that there are equal numbers of patients and providers and that each group consists of one of each. In the event that there is an odd number of participants, a provider can perform the activity with two patients; otherwise, it should be a 1-to-1 ratio.


Write down one of the following scenarios on each strip of paper and fold up so participants can't read them.

  1. Patient has been using opioids and is afraid that he/she will be cut off; instead, provider offers additional support, counseling, buprenorphine dose increase, and so on.
  2. Although the patient wants to start buprenorphine, he/she is afraid of undergoing withdrawal during induction; provider walks him/her through the process and recommends (if available at clinic site) working with a peer who has been through induction.
  3. The regular clinic physician is on vacation; the substitute is not familiar with buprenorphine and the patient needs to explain why it is working for him/her when they go to pick up a refill. *Note: Refill must be written by a waivered physician.*
  4. Patient is sick of addiction and wants to stop opioid use. Provider explains options.
  5. Patient comes in for induction but appears to be high, rather than in withdrawal. Provider must address the situation and appropriate steps to be taken.
  6. Patient is a medical provider from a local hospital.
  7. Patient wants to quit using opioids but is afraid of the stigma of methadone, unaware that he/she has an additional option.

Each group role-plays one of these activities. If working with a large group, each activity will take place concurrently for approximately 10 minutes. Then, the facilitator ends the activity and goes around the room group by group asking how the dyad worked and what it felt like to be the patient or the provider. (If the group is small then the role play can be done in front of the group if participants are comfortable with this format. Similar discussion would follow.)

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