June 27, 2017
1 min read

Certain process measures may lower mortality in opioid addiction

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Recent findings indicated several process measures were associated with lower mortality among individuals with opioid use disorder, including psychosocial treatment and quarterly physician visits.

“We know from other research that medication-assisted therapy can help people stay off drugs, get jobs and lead more productive lives,” Katherine Watkins, PhD, of RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, said in a press release. “But in this study, the treatment strategy was not associated with lower mortality.”

Katherine Watkins
Katherine Watkins

To assess associations between treatment process measures and mortality in opioid use disorder, researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of individuals with opioid use disorders who received care from the Veterans Administration between October 2006 and September 2007. Process measures included quarterly physician visits, any opioid use disorder pharmacotherapy, continuous pharmacotherapy, psychosocial treatment, hepatitis B/C and HIV screening, and no benzodiazepines or opioids prescriptions.

Not being prescribed benzodiazepines or opioids, receipt of any psychosocial treatment and quarterly physician visits were significantly associated with lower mortality at 12 and 24 months.

Conversely, Hepatitis and HIV screening and measures related to opioid use disorder pharmacotherapy were not associated with lower mortality at 12 and 24 months.

Difference in prevalence of an unknown confounder would “have to be unrealistically large” or have a large effect to refute significance of these associations, according to sensitivity analyses.

“This is a very large drop in mortality and we need to conduct more research to see if these findings hold up in other patient care settings,” Watkins said in the release. “But our initial findings suggest that these quality measures could go a long way toward improving patient outcomes among those who suffer from opioid addiction.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.