Buprenorphine retention in primary care.

Document Type

Article, Non peer-reviewed

Publication Date



BACKGROUND: This study assesses the rate and predictors of treatment retention for primary care patients with opioid dependence-prescribed buprenorphine, a long-acting partial opioid agonist. METHODS: Observational cohort study of patients prescribed buprenorphine/naloxone and followed for 6 months in the period after the adoption of buprenophine/naloxone by a primary care practice in Rhode Island. Practice policy precluded patient discharges due to continuing drug use. RESULTS: Patients (n=41) had a mean duration of opioid use of 15.7 years and most had a history of heroin use (63.4%). Thirty-nine percent of patients transferred from methadone maintenance. At 24 weeks, 59% remained in treatment. Nearly half of dropouts occurred in the first 30 days. Participants with opiate-positive toxicologies at week 1 were more likely to drop out of the program (P<.01) and had a significantly shorter retention time (P<.01) on average. Among other drug use and drug treatment variables, employment and addiction counseling during treatment were significantly associated with treatment retention (P=.03). CONCLUSION: Retention rates in a real world, primary care-based buprenorphine maintenance practice reflect those reported in clinical trials. Abstinence during the first week of treatment and receipt of counseling were critical to patient retention.