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Clinical leaders and providers' perspectives on delivering medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder in Veteran Affairs' facilities.

Hawkins EJ, Danner AN, Malte CA, Blanchard BE, Williams EC, Hagedorn HJ, Gordon AJ, Drexler K, Burden JL, Knoeppel J, Lott A, Sayre GG, Midboe AM, Saxon AJ. Clinical leaders and providers' perspectives on delivering medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder in Veteran Affairs' facilities. Addiction science & clinical practice. 2021 Sep 6; 16(1):55.

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BACKGROUND: Improving access to medication treatment of opioid use disorder (MOUD) is a national priority, yet common modifiable barriers (e.g., limited provider knowledge, negative beliefs about MOUD) often challenge implementation of MOUD delivery. To address these barriers, the VA launched a multifaceted implementation intervention focused on planning and educational strategies to increase MOUD delivery in 18 medical facilities. The purpose of this investigation was to determine if a multifaceted intervention approach to increase MOUD delivery changed providers' perceptions about MOUD over the first year of implementation. METHODS: Cross-disciplinary teams of clinic providers and leadership from primary care, pain, and mental health clinics at 18 VA medical facilities received invitations to complete an anonymous, electronic survey prior to intervention launch (baseline) and at 12- month follow-up. Responses were summarized using descriptive statistics, and changes over time were compared using regression models adjusted for gender and prescriber status, and clustered on facility. Responses to open-ended questions were thematically analyzed using a template analysis approach. RESULTS: Survey response rates at baseline and follow-up were 57.1% (56/98) and 50.4% (61/121), respectively. At both time points, most respondents agreed that MOUD delivery is important (94.7 vs. 86.9%), lifesaving (92.8 vs. 88.5%) and evidence-based (85.2 vs. 89.5%). Over one-third (37.5%) viewed MOUD delivery as time-consuming, and only 53.7% affirmed that clinic providers wanted to prescribe MOUD at baseline; similar responses were seen at follow-up (34.5 and 52.4%, respectively). Respondents rated their knowledge about OUD, comfort discussing opioid use with patients, job satisfaction, ability to help patients with OUD, and support from colleagues favorably at both time points. Respondents' ratings of MOUD delivery filling a gap in care were high but declined significantly from baseline to follow-up (85.7 vs. 73.7%, p < 0.04). Open-ended responses identified implementation barriers including lack of support to diagnose and treat OUD and lack of time. CONCLUSIONS: Although perceptions about MOUD generally were positive, targeted education and planning strategies did not improve providers' and clinical leaders' perceptions of MOUD over time. Strategies that improve leaders' prioritization and support of MOUD and address time constraints related to delivering MOUD may increase access to MOUD in non-substance use treatment clinics.

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