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Integrating Routine Screening for Opioid Use Disorder into Primary Care Settings: Experiences from a National Cohort of Clinics.

Austin EJ, Briggs ES, Ferro L, Barry P, Heald A, Curran GM, Saxon AJ, Fortney J, Ratzliff AD, Williams EC. Integrating Routine Screening for Opioid Use Disorder into Primary Care Settings: Experiences from a National Cohort of Clinics. Journal of general internal medicine. 2023 Feb 1; 38(2):332-340.

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BACKGROUND: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends routine population-based screening for drug use, yet screening for opioid use disorder (OUD) in primary care occurs rarely, and little is known about barriers primary care teams face. OBJECTIVE: As part of a multisite randomized trial to provide OUD and behavioral health treatment using the Collaborative Care Model, we supported 10 primary care clinics in implementing routine OUD screening and conducted formative evaluation to characterize early implementation experiences. DESIGN: Qualitative formative evaluation. APPROACH: Formative evaluation included taking detailed observation notes at implementation meetings with individual clinics and debriefings with external facilitators. Observation notes were analyzed weekly using a Rapid Assessment Process guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, with iterative feedback from the study team. After clinics launched OUD screening, we conducted structured fidelity assessments via group interviews with each site to evaluate clinic experiences with routine OUD screening. Data from observation and structured fidelity assessments were combined into a matrix to compare across clinics and identify cross-cutting barriers and promising implementation strategies. KEY RESULTS: While all clinics had the goal of implementing population-based OUD screening, barriers were experienced across intervention, individual, and clinic setting domains, with compounding effects for telehealth visits. Seven themes emerged characterizing barriers, including (1) challenges identifying who to screen, (2) complexity of the screening tool, (3) staff discomfort and/or hesitancies, (4) workflow barriers that decreased screening follow-up, (5) staffing shortages and turnover, (6) discouragement from low screening yield, and (7) stigma. Promising implementation strategies included utilizing a more universal screening approach, health information technology (HIT), audit and feedback, and repeated staff trainings. CONCLUSIONS: Integrating population-based OUD screening in primary care is challenging but may be made feasible via implementation strategies and tailored practice facilitation that standardize workflows via HIT, decrease stigma, and increase staff confidence regarding OUD.

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