Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

The impact of COVID-19 and rapid policy exemptions expanding on access to medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD): A nationwide Veterans Health Administration cohort study.

Livingston NA, Davenport M, Head M, Henke R, LeBeau LS, Gibson TB, Banducci AN, Sarpong A, Jayanthi S, Roth C, Camacho-Cook J, Meng F, Hyde J, Mulvaney-Day N, White M, Chen DC, Stein MD, Weisberg R. The impact of COVID-19 and rapid policy exemptions expanding on access to medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD): A nationwide Veterans Health Administration cohort study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2022 Dec 1; 241:109678.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: In March 2020, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) enacted policies to expand treatment for Veterans with opioid use disorder (OUD) during COVID-19. In this study, we evaluate whether COVID-19 and subsequent OUD treatment policies impacted receipt of therapy/counseling and medication for OUD (MOUD). METHODS: Using VHA''s nationwide electronic health record data, we compared outcomes between a comparison cohort derived using data from prior to COVID-19 (October 2017-December 2019) and a pandemic-exposed cohort (January 2019-March 2021). Primary outcomes included receipt of therapy/counseling or any MOUD (any/none); secondary outcomes included the number of therapy/counseling sessions attended, and the average percentage of days covered (PDC) by, and months prescribed, each MOUD in a year. RESULTS: Veterans were less likely to receive therapy/counseling over time, especially post-pandemic onset, and despite substantial increases in teletherapy. The likelihood of receiving buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone was reduced post-pandemic onset. PDC on MOUD generally decreased over time, especially methadone PDC post-pandemic onset, whereas buprenorphine PDC was less impacted during COVID-19. The number of months prescribed methadone and buprenorphine represented relative improvements compared to prior years. We observed important disparities across Veteran demographics. CONCLUSION: Receipt of treatment was negatively impacted during the pandemic. However, there was some evidence that coverage on methadone and buprenorphine may have improved among some veterans who received them. These medication effects are consistent with expected COVID-19 treatment disruptions, while improvements regarding access to therapy/counseling via telehealth, as well as coverage on MOUD during the pandemic, are consistent with the aims of MOUD policy exemptions.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.