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The Lived Experience of Medication for Opioid Use Disorder: Qualitative Metasynthesis.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: Buprenorphine and methadone, when used as maintenance therapy in opioid use disorder (OUD), can significantly reduce the risk of death after an opioid overdose. Despite the many benefits, medication for OUD (MOUD) remains controversial and underutilized. The aim of this study was to (a) identify studies that explicate the lived experience of MOUD, (b) conduct a methodologically sound critical quality assessment, (c) conduct a metasynthesis of identified qualitative studies, and (d) analyze the results through the lenses of critical social justice, feminist standpoint, and social theories to inform a more culturally responsive, effective, and holistic approach to treatment to increase the utilization of and receptivity to MOUD in the treatment of OUDs.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Metasynthesis is the deliberate process of synthesizing data from multiple qualitative studies to create a new interpretation of previously published research. Our metasynthesis focused on forming a new interpretation of the lived experience of MOUD. Of the 292 studies identified, eight met inclusion criteria. The overall quality of the studies was variable. The study population included adults aged ≥ 18 years with OUD or dependency.

RESULTS: Metasynthesis produced three overarching themes: (a) The duplexity of MOUD creates ambivalence in how a person experiences MOUD; (b) the structure of treatment and systemic influences matter, and (c) MOUD as a stepping-stone with multiple meanings in recovery.

IMPLICATIONS: Understanding experiential dualities allows professionals to see from other perspectives and can inform interventions and treatment structures as well as serve as a backdrop for social change. The synthesized new meaning of MOUD was an ambivalent experience influenced by intersectionality.

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