Satisfaction guaranteed? What clients on methadone and buprenorphine think about their treatment

Annie Madden, Toby Lea, Nicky Bath, Adam R Winstock
Drug and Alcohol Review 2008, 27 (6): 671-8

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: A consumer satisfaction survey was conducted among clients receiving methadone or buprenorphine treatment for opioid dependence. The survey aimed to assess client perceptions across a number of treatment domains, including the clinic environment, service provision, clinical relationships, medication and treatment outcomes.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Participants were 432 clients receiving treatment at nine public clinics in New South Wales, Australia. An interviewer-administered questionnaire was utilised, designed by the researchers. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. All participants received $10 remuneration.

RESULTS: Seventy-eight per cent of participants were on methadone treatment. Overall satisfaction with treatment was high (mean: 3.8; very satisfied = 5). Participants were mainly satisfied with service provided by the clinic, although had concerns over the inflexibility associated with the clinic atmosphere, frequency of clinic attendance, dosing hours and lack of takeaway doses. While relationships with prescribers and case managers were rated positively, 16% and 21% of participants wanted to see their prescriber and case manager more often, respectively; 53% reported that they did not have input into their care plan. Regarding the helpfulness of case managers in assisting clients with problems experienced in identified domains of case management (e.g. drug use, physical and mental health, psychosocial supports), the mean rating was 5.2 (excellent = 10).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: While participants reported being mainly satisfied with their treatment, results must be viewed within the context of what a consumer reasonably expects to receive from a service. The concept of 'expectation' and 'relative experience' is crucial in measuring consumer satisfaction among pharmacotherapy consumers.

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