Buprenorphine maintenance treatment is effective and has been successfully integrated into human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and primary care settings. However, one key barrier to providers prescribing buprenorphine is their perception that they are unable to provide adequate counseling or psychosocial support to patients with opioid addiction. This qualitative study investigated supportive elements of office-based buprenorphine treatment that patients perceived to be most valuable.
The authors conducted five focus groups with 33 buprenorphine treatment-experienced participants. Focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed. Iterative readings of transcripts and grounded theory analysis revealed common themes.
Overall, participants perceived that buprenorphine treatment helped them to achieve their treatment goals and valued the flexibility, accessibility, and privacy of treatment. Participants identified interpersonal and structural elements of buprenorphine treatment that provided psychosocial support. Participants desired good physician-patient relationships, but also valued care delivery models that were patient-centered, created a safe place for self-disclosure, and utilized coordinated team-based care.
Participants derived psychosocial support from their prescribing physician, but were also open to collaborative or team-based models of care, as long as they were voluntary and confidential. Buprenorphine-prescribing physicians without access to referral options for psychosocial counseling could focus on maintaining nonjudgmental attitudes and shared decision-making during patient encounters. Adding structure and psychosocial support to buprenorphine treatment through coordinated team-based care also seems to have great promise.
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