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This article is the author’s final published version in Substance Abuse: Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, Volume 18, Issue 1, January 2023, Article number 4.

The published version is available at Copyright © Reed et al.


Background: Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is the gold standard treatment for opioid use disorder. Traditionally, "success" in MOUD treatment is measured in terms of program retention, adherence to MOUD, and abstinence from opioid and other drug use. While clinically meaningful, these metrics may overlook other aspects of the lives of people with opioid use disorder (OUD) and surprisingly do not reflect the diagnostic criteria for OUD.

Methods: Authors identified items for a pilesorting task to identify participant-driven measures of MOUD treatment success through semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded in Nvivo using directed and conventional content analysis to identify measures related to treatment success and quality of life goals. Participants of a low-threshold MOUD program were recruited and asked to rank identified measures in order of importance to their own lives. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) compared the similarity of items while non-metric MDS in R specified a two-dimensional solution. Descriptive statistics of participant demographics were generated in SPSS.

Results: Sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted between June and August 2020 in Philadelphia, PA, USA, and 23 measures were identified for a pilesorting activity. These were combined with 6 traditional measures for a total list of 29 items. Data from 28 people were included in pilesorting analysis. Participants identified a combination of traditional and stakeholder-defined recovery goals as highly important, however, we identified discrepancies between the most frequent and highest ranked items within the importance categories. Measures of success for participants in MOUD programs were complex, multi-dimensional, and varied by the individual. However, some key domains such as emotional well-being, decreased drug use, and attendance to basic functioning may have universal importance. The following clusters of importance were identified: emotional well-being, decreased drug use, and human functioning.

Conclusions: Outcomes from this research have practical applications for those working to provide services in MOUD programs. Programs can use aspects of these domains to both provide patient-centered care and to evaluate success. Specifics from the pilesorting results may also inform approaches to collaborative goal setting during treatment.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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