Treating Opioid Dependence with Buprenorphine in the Safety Net: Critical Learning from Clinical Data

J Behav Health Serv Res. 2017 Jul;44(3):351-363. doi: 10.1007/s11414-017-9553-z.


Research has examined the safety, efficacy, feasibility, and cost-effectiveness of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid dependence, but few studies have examined patient and provider experiences, especially in community health centers. Using de-identified electronic health record system (EHRS) data from 70 OCHIN community health centers (n = 1825), this cross-sectional analysis compared the demographics, comorbidities, and service utilization of patients receiving buprenorphine to those not receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Compared to non-MAT patients, buprenorphine patients were younger and less likely to be Hispanic or live in poverty. Buprenorphine patients were less likely to have Medicaid insurance coverage, more likely to self-pay, and have private insurance coverage. Buprenorphine patients were less likely to have problem medical comorbidities or be coprescribed high-risk medications. It is important for providers, clinic administrators, and patients to understand the clinical application of medications for opioid dependence to ensure safe and effective care within safety net clinics.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Buprenorphine