Introduction: The opioid epidemic has already devastated Philadelphia and COVID-19 has the potential to exacerbating this existing crisis. The goal of this study is to investigate how COVID-19 has impacted Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) service utilization and substance use for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD).
Methods: 170 participants with OUD in group-based MAT programs in Philadelphia were analyzed three months prior to and after COVID-19. The data provided participant age, gender, race/ethnicity, MAT visits, primary care physician (PCP) visits, behavioral health consult visits (BHC), and urine drug screen (UDS) results from health records. Pre-post COVID-19 relationships were examined for differences in demographics, number of PCP, MAT, and BHC visits, and substance use per UDS results.
Results: There was a 91% retention rate of pre-COVID-19 participants. There were 26 new patients post-COVID-19 with no significant difference in demographics between the pre to post-COVID-19 sample populations. The average number of MAT and BHC visits decreased significantly post COVID-19, while PCP visits stayed the same. There was a decrease in the number of positive and negative UDS tests post-COVID 19, but when evaluating substance use using the proportion of positive tests, there was a significant decrease in positive buprenorphine tests, but no significant difference for opioids, cocaine, marijuana, or fentanyl.
Discussion: These results show changes in service use post-COVID-19, but with an increase in telehealth utilization, changes in substance use cannot be determined. These results are important to determine which services are being used, and how best to provide treatment to this patient population during COVID-19.
Bernheimer, Camryn and Weinstein, MD, Lara, "Impact of COVID-19 on Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder’s access to Services and Substance use" (2021). Phase 1. Paper 92.