Primary care experiences of veterans with opioid use disorder in the Veterans Health Administration

Academic Article


  • Background: While patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) are thought to encounter poor primary care experiences, the perspectives of patients with opioid use disorder (OUD), specifically, are unknown. This study compares the primary care experiences of patients with OUD, other SUDs and no SUD in the Veterans Health Administration. Methods: The sample included Veterans who responded to the national Patient-Centered Medical Home Survey of Healthcare Experiences of Patients, 2013–2015. Respondents included 3554 patients with OUD, 36,175 with other SUDs, and 756,386 with no SUD; 742 OUD-diagnosed patients received buprenorphine. Multivariable multinomial logistic regressions estimated differences in the probability of reporting positive and negative experiences (0–100 scale) for patients with OUD, compared to patients with other SUDs and no SUD, and for OUD-diagnosed patients treated versus not treated with buprenorphine. Results: Of all domains, patients with OUD reported the least positive experiences with access (31%) and medication decision-making (35%), and the most negative experiences with self-management support (35%) and provider communication (23%). Compared to the other groups, patients diagnosed with OUD reported fewer positive and/or more negative experiences with access, communication, office staff, provider ratings, comprehensiveness, care coordination, and self-management support (adjusted risk differences[aRDs] range from |2.9| to |7.0|). Among OUD-diagnosed patients, buprenorphine was associated with more positive experiences with comprehensiveness (aRD = 8.3) and self-management support (aRD = 7.1), and less negative experiences with care coordination (aRD = −4.9) and medication shared decision-making (aRD = −5.4). Conclusions: In a national sample, patients diagnosed with OUD encounter less positive and more negative experiences than other primary care patients, including those with other SUDs. Buprenorphine treatment relates positively to experiences with care comprehensiveness, medication decisions, and care coordination. As stakeholders encourage more primary care providers to manage OUD, it will be important for healthcare systems to attend to patient access and experiences with care in these settings.
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    Author List

  • Jones AL; Kertesz SG; Hausmann LRM; Mor MK; Suo Y; Pettey WBP; Schaefer JH; Gundlapalli AV; Gordon AJ
  • Volume

  • 113