Population Health

November 3, 2022

UW study assesses disproportionate access to opioid addiction treatment

Image of a prescription bottleAs the opioid addition crisis becomes increasingly worse across the U.S. over the past several years, federal policy changes are being implemented to shift patient evaluations toward a virtual format. A focus on buprenorphine, an effective treatment for opioid disorder, was another major aspect of these policy changes, as it is easy to prescribe in a telemedicine setting. Researchers at the University of Washington are exploring whether these changes in policy are affecting the disproportionate access to buprenorphine experienced by Black and Latinx patients.

There are known barriers to access associated with telemedicine. The researchers sought to determine whether those barriers were improved or worsened with the policy changes related to buprenorphine. They will conduct phone interviews with Black and Latinx patients to determine how these policies affect their access to the drug in addition to extensive data and literature review from sources such as the U.S. Veterans Affairs.

The team hopes that their findings will impact the longevity of these policy changes. If they show that marginalized populations are experiencing more barriers to access of buprenorphine, it will ideally encourage further review of these temporary policies to address this issue before making it a permanent policy.

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