Background: Digital interventions, such as websites and smartphone apps, can be effective in treating drug use disorders (DUDs). However, their implementation in primary care is hindered, in part, by a lack of knowledge on how patients might like these treatments delivered to them.
Objective: This study aims to increase the understanding of how patients with DUDs prefer to receive app-based treatments to inform the implementation of these treatments in primary care.
Methods: The methods of user-centered design were combined with qualitative research methods to inform the design of workflows for offering app-based treatments in primary care. Adult patients (n=14) with past-year cannabis, stimulant, or opioid use disorder from 5 primary care clinics of Kaiser Permanente Washington in the Seattle area participated in this study. Semistructured interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative template analysis. The coding scheme included deductive codes based on interview topics, which primarily focused on workflow design. Inductive codes emerged from the data.
Results: Participants wanted to learn about apps during visits where drug use was discussed and felt that app-related conversations should be incorporated into the existing care whenever possible, as opposed to creating new health care visits to facilitate the use of the app. Nearly all participants preferred receiving clinician support for using apps over using them without support. They desired a trusting, supportive relationship with a clinician who could guide them as they used the app. Participants wanted follow-up support via phone calls or secure messaging because these modes of communication were perceived as a convenient and low burden (eg, no copays or appointment travel).
Conclusions: A user-centered implementation of treatment apps for DUDs in primary care will require health systems to design workflows that account for patients' needs for structure, support in and outside of visits, and desire for convenience.
Keywords: cannabis; drug use disorders; mHealth; mobile phone; opioids; primary care; qualitative; stimulants; user-centered design.
©Joseph E Glass, Theresa E Matson, Catherine Lim, Andrea L Hartzler, Kilian Kimbel, Amy K Lee, Tara Beatty, Rebecca Parrish, Ryan M Caldeiro, Angela Garza McWethy, Geoffrey M Curran, Katharine A Bradley. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 06.07.2021.