Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Initiation and Continuation: a Qualitative Study of Patients Who Received Addiction Consultation and Hospital-Based Providers.J Gen Intern Med. 2022 08; 37(11):2786-2794.JG
Hospitalizations related to opioid use disorder (OUD) are rising. Addiction consultation services (ACS) increasingly provide OUD treatment to hospitalized patients, but barriers to initiating and continuing medications for OUD remain. We examined facilitators and barriers to hospital-based OUD treatment initiation and continuation from the perspective of patients and healthcare workers in the context of an ACS.
In this qualitative study, we sought input using key informant interviews and focus groups from patients who received care from an ACS during their hospitalization and from hospitalists, pharmacists, social workers, and nurses who work in the hospital setting. A multidisciplinary team coded and analyzed transcripts using a directed content analysis.
We conducted 20 key informant interviews with patients, nine of whom were interviewed following hospital discharge and 12 of whom were interviewed during a rehospitalization. We completed six focus groups and eight key informant interviews with hospitalists and hospital-based medical staff (n = 62). Emergent themes related to hospital-based OUD treatment included the following: the benefit of an ACS to facilitate OUD treatment engagement; expanded use of methadone or buprenorphine to treat opioid withdrawal; the triad of hospitalization, self-efficacy, and easily accessible, patient-centered treatment motivates change in opioid use; adequate pain control and stabilization of mental health conditions among patients with OUD contributed to opioid agonist therapy (OAT) continuation; and stable housing and social support are prerequisites for OAT uptake and continuation.
Modifiable factors which facilitate hospital-based OUD treatment initiation and continuation include availability of in-hospital addiction expertise to offer easily accessible, patient-centered treatment and the use of methadone or buprenorphine to manage opioid withdrawal. Further research and public policy efforts are urgently needed to address reported barriers to hospital-based OUD treatment initiation and continuation which include unstable housing, poorly controlled chronic medical and mental illness, and lack of social support.