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Strategies to improve implementation of medications for opioid use disorder reported by veterans involved in the legal system: A qualitative study.

Morse E, Binswanger IA, Taylor E, Gray C, Stimmel M, Timko C, Harris AHS, Smelson D, Finlay AK. Strategies to improve implementation of medications for opioid use disorder reported by veterans involved in the legal system: A qualitative study. Journal of substance abuse treatment. 2021 Oct 1; 129:108353.

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BACKGROUND: Veterans involved in the legal system have a high risk of overdose mortality but limited utilization of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). To increase the use of MOUD in Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities and reduce overdose mortality, the VHA should incorporate strategies identified by legal-involved veterans to improve quality of care and ensure that their patients'' experiences are integrated into care delivery. This study aims to determine strategies to increase use of MOUD from the perspective of legal-involved veterans with a history of opioid use or opioid use disorder (OUD). METHODS: Between February 2018 and March 2019, we conducted semistructured interviews with 18 veterans with a history of opioid use or OUD and legal involvement (15 men and 3 women; mean age 41, standard deviation 13, range 28-61). Veterans were from 9 geographically dispersed United States VHA facilities. The study analyzed verbatim transcripts using the framework method. The primary focus was themes that represented legal-involved veteran-identified strategies to improve the use of MOUD. RESULTS: The 18 veterans interviewed had legal involvement directly related to their opioid use and most (n  =  15; 83%) had previously used MOUD. Veteran-identified strategies to improve access to and use of MOUD included: (1) VHA should provide transportation or telehealth services; (2) legal agencies should increase access to MOUD during incarceration; (3) the VHA should reduce physician turnover; (4) the VHA should improve physician education to deliver compassionate, patient-centered treatment; (5) the VHA should improve veteran education about MOUD; and (6) the VHA should provide social support opportunities to veterans. CONCLUSIONS: Legal-involved veterans provided strategies that can inform and expand MOUD to better meet their needs and the treatment needs of all patients with OUD. The VHA should consider incorporating these strategies into care, and should evaluate their impact on patients'' experience, initiation of and retention on medications, and overdose rates.

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