Buprenorphine Use and Courses of Care for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Within the Veterans Health Administration.

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Drug and Alcohol Dependence

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Background Retention of patients in buprenorphine medication treatment for opioid use disorder (B-MOUD) reduces harms associated with opioid use disorder (OUD). We sought to characterize the patients receiving B-MOUD and courses of B-MOUD in a large healthcare system.

Methods We conducted a retrospective, open cohort study of patients with OUD who either did or did not receive B-MOUD courses within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) from January 2006 through July 2019, using VHA clinical data. We compared patients receiving or not receiving B-MOUD, characterized B-MOUD courses (e.g., length and doses), and examined persistence, across patient characteristics, over time. We used analyses for normally or non-normally distributed continuous variables, categorical data, and persistence over time (Kaplan-Meier persistence curves).

Results We identified 255,726 Veterans with OUD; 40,431 (15.8%) had received 63,929 B-MOUD courses. Compared to patients with OUD without B-MOUD, patients with B-MOUD were younger, more often of white race, and had more co-morbidities. The frequency of new B-MOUD starts and prevalent B-MOUD patients ranged from 1550 and 1989 in 2007 to 8146 and 16,505 in 2018, respectively. The median duration of B-MOUD was 157 (IQR: 37–537) days for all courses and 33.8% patients had more than one course. The average proportion days covered was 90% (SD: 0.15), and the average prescribed daily dose was 13.44 (SD: 6.5).

Conclusions Within a VHA B-MOUD cohort, courses increased more than 10-fold from 2006 to 2016 with nearly half of patients experiencing multiple courses. Patient demographics seem to dictate the length of courses.


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