Buprenorphine is nearly twice as likely to be prescribed by a primary care physician in nonmetropolitan area compared to a large metropolitan area where specialists provide a majority of treatment, reveals a new study. As the United States undertakes intense efforts to increase the number of prescribers of buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, it is critical to understand who provides such treatment and how at present.
‘Buprenorphine prescription could be increased for opioid use disorder by giving proper education to primary care physicians in non metropolitan areas.’In a survey of a national random sample of buprenorphine physician prescribers (N=1,174), 11% (N=132) practiced in nonmetropolitan/rural areas, 33% (N=382) practiced in small metropolitan areas, and 56% (N=660) were located in large metropolitan areas.
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Buprenorphine prescribers in nonmetropolitan areas were much more likely to be primary care physicians, accept Medicaid, and less likely to work in an individual practice.
Overall, buprenorphine prescribers across the rural/urban continuum were similar in many of their treatment practices, including frequency of visits and dosing. The authors recommend further research to understand variation in treatment practices and quality and how treatment relates to patient perceptions and outcomes.