Introduction: This study explored factors influencing patient access to medications for opioid use disorder (OUD), particularly for individuals eligible but historically suboptimal follow-up with in-house referrals to office-based opioid treatment (OBOT). Objectives: In-depth qualitative interviews among a mostly underserved sample of adults with OUD elicited: 1) knowledge and experiences across the OUD treatment cascade; and 2) more nuanced elements of patient-centered care, including shared decision making with providers, experiences in OBOT versus specialty addiction treatment, transitioning from methadone to buprenorphine or extended-release naltrexone (XR-NTX), and voluntary discontinuation of medications for OUD. Methods: We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews between January and February of 2018 among adult inpatient detoxification program patients with OUD (n = 23). Preliminary analysis of interviews yielded key themes and ideas that were coded from a grounded theory approach. Results: Willingness to engage with OBOT was influenced by a complex array of practical considerations, including access to patient-centered care in OBOT settings, positive experiences with illicitly obtained buprenorphine, and differential experiences pertaining to OBOT versus specialty addiction treatment. Responses were generally favorable towards OBOT with buprenorphine, yet knowledge regarding extended-release naltrexone was limited. Respondents were often frustrated by clinicians when requesting to transition from methadone to buprenorphine or XR-NTX. Lastly, participants elucidated limited access to OBOT programs in underserved neighborhoods and suburban settings. Conclusion: Limited access to patient-centered care in OBOT with buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone may exacerbate challenges to retention and/or reengagement with OUD care.
Keywords: Buprenorphine; opiate substitution treatment; opioid use disorder; primary health care.