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Quality of primary care among individuals receiving treatment for opioid use disorder


Objective — To determine if people receiving opioid agonist treatment (OAT), a long-term treatment approach, are also receiving high-quality primary care.

Design — Retrospective cohort study.

Setting — Ontario.

Participants — Recipients of public drug benefits who had at least 6 months of continuous use of methadone or buprenorphine between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2013.

Main Outcome Measures — Rates of cancer screening and diabetes monitoring among those who had at least 6 months of continuous OAT were compared with matched controls. Conditional logistic regression models were used to assess differences after adjusting for confounders. In secondary analyses, outcomes by type of OAT and factors related to healthcare delivery were compared.

Results — A cohort of 20 406 OAT patients was identified; they had a mean (SD) of 31 (15) physician clinic visits during the 6-month study period. Compared with the control group, OAT patients were less likely to receive screening for cervical cancer (48.7% vs 62.6%; adjusted odds ratio [AOR] of 0.34, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.36), breast cancer (23.3% vs 49.1%; AOR = 0.19, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.24), and colorectal cancer (32.5% vs 49.0%; AOR = 0.34, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.38), and less likely to have monitoring for diabetes (11.7% vs 28.5%; AOR = 0.16, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.21). Patients receiving OAT who were taking buprenorphine, enrolled in a medical home, or seeing a low-volume prescriber were generally more likely to receive cancer screening and diabetes monitoring.

Conclusion — Patients receiving OAT were less likely to receive chronic disease prevention and management than matched controls were despite frequent healthcare visits, indicating a gap in equitable access to primary care.



Spithoff S, Kiran T, Khuu W, Kahan M, Guan Q, Tadrous M, Leece P, Martins D, Gomes T. Can Fam Physician. 2019; 65(5):343-51. Epub 2019 May 1.

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