A comparison of attitudes toward opioid agonist treatment among short-term buprenorphine patients

Sharon M Kelly, Barry S Brown, Elizabeth C Katz, Kevin E O'Grady, Shannon Gwin Mitchell, Stuart King, Robert P Schwartz
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2012, 38 (3): 233-8

BACKGROUND: Obtaining data on attitudes toward buprenorphine and methadone of opioid-dependent individuals in the United States may help fashion approaches to increase treatment entry and improve patient outcomes.

OBJECTIVES: This secondary analysis study compared attitudes toward methadone and buprenorphine of opioid-dependent adults entering short-term buprenorphine treatment (BT) with opioid-dependent adults who are either entering methadone maintenance treatment or not entering treatment.

METHODS: The 417 participants included 132 individuals entering short-term BT, 191 individuals entering methadone maintenance, and 94 individuals not seeking treatment. Participants were administered an Attitudes toward Methadone scale and its companion Attitudes toward Buprenorphine scale. Demographic characteristics for the three groups were compared using χ(2) tests of independence and one-way analysis of variance. A repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance with planned contrasts was used to compare mean attitude scores among the groups.

RESULTS: Participants entering BT had significantly more positive attitudes toward buprenorphine than toward methadone (p < .001) and more positive attitudes toward BT than methadone-treatment (MT) participants and out-of-treatment (OT) participants (p < .001). In addition, BT participants had less positive attitudes toward methadone than participants entering MT (p < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: Participants had a clear preference for a particular medication. Offering a choice of medications to OT individuals might enhance their likelihood of entering treatment. Treatment programs should offer a choice of medications when possible to new patients, and future comparative effectiveness research should incorporate patient preferences into clinical trials.

SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: These data contribute to our understanding of why people seek or do not seek effective pharmacotherapy for opioid addiction.

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