Methods: Adults 18 and older (N=721) were recruited through paid Facebook advertising to complete an online health survey. Participants were asked whether they considered medication treatments (e.g. methadone) to be effective for treating opioid misuse. Other questions assessed perceptions and knowledge related to opioids (e.g. the extent to which they believe that prescription medication and heroin problems can improve with treatment, and knowledge of opioid overdose and prevention). Participants also reported demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, zip code, race/ethnicity). Logistic regression was used to examine whether these factors were associated with the view that MAT is an effective treatment for opioid use disorders. In order to and identify more accurate parameter estimates and utilize the full sample, including those respondents who had at least one missing value (27.7% of the sample), multiple imputation was used to handle missing data (Enders, 2013).
Results: 41% of respondents considered MAT an effective treatment for opioid use disorders. Results of the logistic regression indicate that rural residents had lower odds of considering MAT to be an effective treatment for treating opioid misuse (OR=0.599, p=.045). Individuals who believed prescription medication misuse can improve with treatment had greater odds of considering MAT to be effective (OR=2.32, p<.001). Individuals with more knowledge of opioids (e.g. overdoses can be reversed) (OR=1.27; p=.027, had greater odds of considering MAT effective.
Conclusions/Implications: There are already numerous barriers to MAT in rural areas (e.g., lack of providers, long travel times); attitudes towards MAT may represent an additional barrier. Education about MAT in rural areas may be particularly beneficial in increasing engagement in MAT. Those who believed that prescription medication misuse can improve with treatment and those with more knowledge of opioids were more likely to believe that MAT is efficacious. Thus, individuals with less stigmaizing beliefs about opioid use generally may be more open to MAT, and interventions to reduce stigma may be important for increasing MAT utilization.
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Volkow, N. D., Frieden, T. R., Hyde, P. S., & Cha, S. S. (2014). Medication-assisted therapies—tackling the opioid-overdose epidemic. New England Journal of Medicine, 370(22), 2063-2066.