Association of a Multimodal Educational Intervention for Primary Care Physicians With Prescriptions of Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorders.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

JAMA Netw Open


Importance: Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a public health crisis in the United States, but only 5% of US physicians have obtained a Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) waiver to prescribe buprenorphine to treat OUD. Increasing the number of primary care physicians (PCPs) who have obtained the waiver and are able to treat patients with OUD is of utmost importance.

Objective: To determine whether a multimodal educational intervention of PCPs is associated with an increase in the number of buprenorphine waivers obtained and patients initiated into treatment in a primary care setting.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This quality improvement study was conducted in primary health care clinics within a large, integrated health care system. Patients included those who had received a diagnosis of OUD, and had Providence Health Plan Medicare or Medicaid insurance. Included PCPs were divided into 2 groups: those who obtained a DATA waiver after an education intervention (uptake PCPs) vs those who did not obtain a DATA waiver (nonuptake PCPs). The study took place between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2017. Data analyses were conducted from December 2017 to August 2019.

Exposures: Multimodal educational intervention including video, in-person visits to clinical practitioner meetings by physician champions, and a primary care toolkit with training resources and clinic protocols.

Main Outcomes and Measures: The number of new uptake clinics where at least 1 PCP obtained a DATA waiver, the number of new PCPs with DATA waivers, the number of patients receiving a buprenorphine prescription, and the number of patients who received 12 or more weeks of treatment.

Results: Twenty-seven of 41 invited clinics implemented the intervention, and 620 PCPs were included. The number of PCPs with DATA waivers increased from 5 PCPs (0.8%) to 44 PCPs (7.1%), and the number of clinics with at least 1 buprenorphine prescriber increased from 3 clinics (7.3%) to 17 clinics (41.5%). In total, 213 patients underwent buprenorphine treatment, and 140 patients received 12 or more weeks of treatment. A total of 646 patients had Providence Health Plan Medicare or Medicaid insurance and were eligible for the study (mean [SD] age, 61.7 [16.5] years; 410 [63.5%] women). There was a statistically significant difference in treatment with buprenorphine between patients with uptake PCPs vs patients with nonuptake PCPs (23 patients [16.4%] vs 18 patients [3.5%]; odds ratio, 4.61 [95% CI, 2.32-10.51]; P = .01) after the intervention.

Conclusions and Relevance: In this quality improvement study, an educational intervention was associated with an increase in the number of PCPs and clinics that could provide buprenorphine treatment for OUD and with an increase in the patients who were able to access care with medications for OUD.

Clinical Institute

Mental Health


Primary Care