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Gustavson AM, Wisdom JP, Kenny ME, Salameh HA, Ackland PE, Clothier B, Noorbaloochi S, Gordon AJ, Hagedorn HJ. Early impacts of a multi-faceted implementation strategy to increase use of medication treatments for opioid use disorder in the Veterans Health Administration. Implementation science communications. 2021 Feb 15; 2(1):20.
BACKGROUND: Despite the risk of negative sequelae from opioid use disorder (OUD) and clinical guidelines for the use of effective medication treatment for OUD (M-OUD), many Veterans Health Administration (VHA) providers and facilities lag in providing M-OUD. An intensive external facilitation intervention may enhance uptake in low-adopting VHA facilities by engaging stakeholders from multiple clinical settings within a facility (e.g., mental health, primary care, pain specialty clinic, substance use disorder clinics). Our study identified pre-intervention determinants of implementation through qualitative interviews, described strategies employed during the first 6 months of intensive external facilitation, and explored patterns of implementation determinants in relation to early outcomes. METHODS: Guided by the integrated-Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (i-PARIHS) framework, we interviewed stakeholders at low-adopting VHA facilities prior to external facilitation, employed a rapid qualitative analytic process, presented findings during facility visits, and collaboratively created facilitation action plans to achieve goals set by the facilities that would increase M-OUD uptake. The primary outcome was the Substance Use Disorder (SUD)-16, which is a VHA facility-level performance metric consisting of the percent of patients receiving M-OUD among those with an OUD diagnosis. We examined the relationship between pre-implementation factors and 6-month SUD-16 outcomes. RESULTS: Across eight VHA facilities, we interviewed 68 participants. Implementation determinants included barriers and facilitators across innovation, context, and recipients constructs of i-PARIHS. Each facility selected goals based on the qualitative results. At 6 months, two facilities achieved most goals and two facilities demonstrated progress. The SUD-16 from baseline to 6 months significantly improved in two facilities (8.4% increase (95 % confidence interval [CI] 4.4-12.4) and 9.9% increase (95% CI 3.6-16.2), respectively). Six-month implementation outcomes showed that the extent to which M-OUD aligns with existing clinical practices and values was a primary factor at all facilities, with six of eight facilities perceiving it as both a barrier and facilitator. External health system barriers were most challenging for facilities with the smallest change in SUD-16. CONCLUSIONS: Early impacts of a multi-faceted implementation approach demonstrated a strong signal for positively impacting M-OUD prescribing in low-adopting VHA facilities. This signal indicates that external facilitation can influence adoption of M-OUD at the facility level in the early implementation phase. These short-term wins experienced by stakeholders may encourage continued adoption and long-term sustainability M-OUD.