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Primary care and opioid use disorder treatment – a slideshow


Survey asks if people know primary care physicians can prescribe medications for OUD.

Many Americans have at least heard about the opioid crisis, even if it does not directly affect them.

But a majority of people don’t know that primary care physicians can prescribe medications for opioid use disorder (OUD), according to a new survey funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The patient survey from June last year had 1,234 respondents. Spoiler alert: Most believed primary care physicians (PCPs) should provide treatment for OUD.

“We’ve made great strides in making it easier for primary care doctors to prescribe these safe and effective treatments, but our study indicates a critical disconnect between the need for medications for opioid use disorder and people’s knowledge about how to access them,” lead author Brandon del Pozo, PhD, MPA, MA, said in an NIH news release. Del Pozo is assistant professor at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Brown University School of Public Health and lead author on the study. “Science, public health, insurance, policy, and public perception all must align to improve access to treatment.”

NIH said decades of research support the benefits of medications such as buprenorphine and methadone to treat opioid use disorder. There are approximately 209,00 primary care physicians in the United States, but studies estimate fewer than 2,500 specialize in addiction medicine. If more were to prescribe medications for opioid use disorder, “channeling addiction treatment through primary care could have a significant public health impact,” NIH’s news release.

Data come from “Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs About Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in Primary Care,” a research letter published June 28 in JAMA Network Open. NIH’ accompanying news release, “Most Americans don’t know that primary care physicians can prescribe addiction treatment,” was published online.

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