Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2022 Nov 5;17(1):60. doi: 10.1186/s13722-022-00342-1.
BACKGROUND: Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) reduces mortality, but few patients access MOUD. At a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), we implemented a low barrier model of MOUD, including same-day MOUD initiation and a harm reduction philosophy.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether low barrier MOUD improved retention in care compared to traditional treatment.
DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: Retrospective cohort study of patients with at least one visit seeking MOUD at the FQHC during a historical control period (3/1/2018-3/31/2019) and a low barrier intervention period (11/1/2019-7/31/2020).
MAIN MEASURES: Primary outcomes were any MOUD prescription within 6 months of the index visit and 3- and 6-month retention in treatment without care gap, with care gap defined as 60 consecutive days without a visit or prescription. Secondary outcomes were all-cause hospitalization and emergency department visit within 6 months of the index visit.
KEY RESULTS: Baseline characteristics were similar between the intervention (n = 113) and control (n = 90) groups, except the intervention group had higher rates of uninsured, public insurance and diabetes. Any MOUD prescription within 6 months of index visit was higher in the intervention group (97.3% vs 70%), with higher adjusted odds of MOUD prescription (OR = 4.01, 95% CI 2.08-7.71). Retention in care was similar between groups at 3 months (61.9% vs 60%, aOR = 1.06, 95% CI 0.78-1.44). At 6 months, a higher proportion of the intervention group was retained in care, but the difference was not statistically significant (53.1% vs 45.6%, aOR 1.27, 95% CI 0.93-1.73). There was no significant difference in adjusted odds of 6-month hospitalization or ED visit between groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Low barrier MOUD engaged a higher risk population and did not result in any statistically significant difference in retention in care compared with a historical control. Future research should determine what interventions improve retention of patients engaged through low barrier care. Primary care clinics can implement low barrier treatment to make MOUD accessible to a broader population.