"It's more than Just a Job to Them": A Qualitative Examination of Patient and Provider Perspectives on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Community Ment Health J. 2022 Feb;58(2):321-327. doi: 10.1007/s10597-021-00824-7. Epub 2021 Apr 12.


The expansion of access to medication-assisted treatment by states and the federal government serves as one important tool for tackling the opioid crisis. Achieving this goal requires increasing the number of medical professionals who hold DATA Waiver 2000 waived status, which allows providers to prescribe the medication utilized by treatment programs. Waived providers are scarce throughout rural America, placing a potentially large burden on those who do hold a waiver. This paper uses data gathered through qualitative interviews with healthcare workers and patients at MAT clinics in Montana to understand how the relationship between rural healthcare workers and MAT patients contributes to burnout and potential staff turnover in a rural setting. Patients defined quality care via the patient-staff relationship, including expectations of personal support and viewing staff availability as a requirement for their recovery. Healthcare workers, in contrast, refer to their availability to patients as overwhelming and necessary both during and after business hours. These findings illuminate the need to continue expanding MAT access in rural communities, especially in non-specialty care settings including primary care offices and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Keywords: Medication Assisted Treatment; Opioid-use disorder; Patient-centered; Rural.

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Personnel Turnover