Shorter Wait-times Associated With Improved Post-hospital Discharge Linkage to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Buprenorphine and methadone are effective treatments for opioid use disorder (OUD), but most individuals with OUD do not receive them. Hospitalization is an opportunity to initiate treatment, but many patients do not link with care after hospital discharge. Researchers used data from patients admitted to Boston Medical Center who were started on buprenorphine to investigate the association between the wait-time for follow-up appointments and linkage with OUD care.

  • The study included adults with OUD who were started on buprenorphine during hospitalization and provided with a follow-up appointment at 1 of 2 affiliated clinics.
  • Of 142 patients, 77 (55%) arrived at their follow-up appointment; 56 (39%) had an appointment 0–1 days after discharge from the hospital, and the remainder (61%) had an appointment 2 or more days after discharge.
  • Patients with a follow up 0–1 days after discharge were more likely to arrive at their appointment than those with an appointment 2 or more days after discharge (63% versus 42%, respectively).
  • In multivariable analyses, having a follow-up appointment 0–1 days after discharge was associated with improved odds of arriving at the appointment (odds ratio, 2.6).

Comments: We need to do more to improve engagement and retention in evidence-based treatments for OUD. This study suggests that providing a follow-up appointment within a day after hospital discharge is one tool to accomplish this.

Darius A. Rastegar, MD

Reference: Roy PJ, Price R, Choi S, et al. Shorter outpatient wait-times for buprenorphine are associated with linkage to care post-hospital discharge. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021;224:108703.

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