Patient Dropout from Opioid Substitution Treatment
Akhtar S*, Sellman D and Adamson S
Journal Title:Medical & Clinical Research
Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST) is an established treatment for opioid dependence. In New Zealand, OST programs are regulated by the Ministry of Health (2014) and Methadone and Buprenorphine/Naloxone (Suboxone) are the primary medications. Retention on OST is a key indicator for stabilisation of patients with opioid dependence. The purpose of the present research was to study dropout rates and identify factors associated with the dropout of patients from OST at the Community Alcohol and Drug Service (CADS), Hamilton, from 1st January 2013 to 30th April 2014. A retrospective clinical audit of patients on OST was conducted. There were 150 patients on OST in Hamilton under the CADS team during the period of study. Nine patients dropped out during the study period. Sixty-four patients were randomly selected from the remaining 141 patients who remained on treatment as a comparison group and for the study sample to be approximately half of the overall population of 150 patients. File review was conducted and potential predictors of dropout were identified. Thirty-five independent variables were selected and dropout was the dependent variable. The statistical programme SPSS22 was used to analyse the data. Fisher’s exact test was used and four variables were identified as being associated with dropout: history of intravenous drug use; (Fisher’s exact p = 0.05); history of lifetime imprisonment (Fisher’s exact p =0.05); other medications prescribed, (Fisher’s exact p = 0.04); and opioid type prescribed during the study, i.e. methadone or Suboxone. Patients on Suboxone dropped out more than those on methadone, (Fisher’s exact p = 0.00). The overall dropout rate was 6%, which was less than the rates of 15-85% found in previous studies. The limitations of the study were that it was retrospective and the number of dropouts was small. Furthermore, only patient factors associated with dropout were included in the study and service factors were not included.