Peer Reviewed Study

Remotely delivered incentives to promote buprenorphine treatment engagement in out-of-treatment adults with opioid use disorder

August 1, 2021
National Library of Medicine
Holtyn AF, Toegel F, Novak MD, Leoutsakos JM, Fingerhood M, Silverman K.
Managing Medication Adherence to Improve Outcomes and Quality Metrics


Background: Opioid overdose remains a leading cause of death. Office-based buprenorphine could expand access to treatment to the many opioid users who are not in treatment and who are at risk for opioid overdose. However, many people in need of buprenorphine treatment do not enroll in treatment. This randomized pilot trial evaluated efficacy of a remotely delivered incentive intervention in promoting engagement in buprenorphine treatment in out-of-treatment adults with opioid use disorder.

Methods: Participants (N = 41) were offered referrals to buprenorphine treatment and randomly assigned to Control or Incentive groups for 6 months. Incentive participants were offered incentives for enrolling in buprenorphine treatment, verified by providing documentation showing that they received a buprenorphine prescription, and providing videos taking daily buprenorphine doses. Participants used a smartphone application to record and submit a video of their buprenorphine prescription and daily buprenorphine administration. Incentive earnings were added remotely to reloadable credit cards.

Results: Incentive participants were significantly more likely to enroll in treatment compared to control participants (71.4 % versus 30.0 % of participants; OR [95 % CI]: 6.24 [1.46-26.72], p = .014). Few participants in either group adhered to buprenorphine treatment, and the two groups continued to use opioids, including fentanyl at high and comparable rates. The two groups did not differ in the percentage of urine samples that were positive for buprenorphine, opiates, fentanyl, or methadone at monthly assessments conducted during the 6-month intervention.

Conclusions: Remotely delivered incentives can connect out-of-treatment adults with opioid use disorder to treatment, but additional supports are needed to promote buprenorphine adherence.

Keywords: Buprenorphine; Incentives; Mobile health; Opioids; Overdose; Treatment.

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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