Risk factors for fatal outcome in patients with opioid dependence treated with methadone in a family medicine setting in Croatia

Croat Med J. 2013 Feb;54(1):42-8. doi: 10.3325/cmj.2013.54.42.


Aim: To determine the risk factors for fatal outcome in patients with opioid dependence treated with methadone at the primary care level.

Methods: A group of 287 patients with opioid dependence was monitored prospectively from 1995 to 2007. At the beginning of the study, we collected the data on patient baseline characteristics, treatment characteristics, and living environment. At the annual check-up, we collected the data on daily methadone dose, method of methadone therapy administration, and family physician's assessment of the patient's drug use status.

Results: Out of 287 patients, 8% died. Logistic regression analysis showed that the predictors of fatal outcome were continuation of drug use during previous therapeutic attempts (odds ratio [OR], 19.402; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.659-226.873), maintenance therapy as the planned treatment modality (OR, 3.738; 95% CI, 1.045-13.370), living in an unstable relationship (OR, 9.275; 95% CI, 2.207-38.984), and loss of continuity of care (OR, 12.643; 95% CI, 3.001-53.253).

Conclusion: The patients presenting these risk factors require special attention. It is important for family physicians to insist on compliance with the treatment protocol and intervene when they lose contact with the patient to prevent the fatal outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Croatia
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / mortality*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physicians, Family
  • Primary Health Care
  • Risk Factors


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Methadone