BACKGROUND: The majority of patients with opioid use disorder do not receive medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), especially in rural areas. The patient-centered access to healthcare framework posits access as a multidimensional phenomenon impacted by five healthcare system and five patient ability dimensions. Interventions to improve local MOUD treatment outcomes require an understanding of how these dimensions differ across urban and rural communities. This scoping review sought to systematically appraise the literature on MOUD access across urban and rural communities (i.e., rurality) in the US using the patient-centered access framework.
METHODS: We performed a scoping review of 1) electronic databases, 2) grey literature, and 3) correspondence with content experts (March 2021). We included articles specifying the study sample by rurality and examining at least one dimension of access to MOUD. The analysis and qualitative synthesis of study results examined study characteristics and categorized key findings by access dimensions.
RESULTS: The search produced 3963 unique articles, of which 147 met inclusion criteria. Among included studies, 96% (142/147) examined healthcare system dimensions of access while less than 20% (25/147) examined any of the five dimensions of patient ability. Additionally, 49% (72/147) of studies compared access dimensions by rurality. Across studies, increasing rurality was associated with fewer available MOUD services, but little was known about geographic variation in other critical dimensions of access.
CONCLUSIONS: The vast majority of studies examined healthcare system dimensions of MOUD access and few studies made comparisons by rurality or prioritized the patient’s perspective, limiting our understanding of how access differs by rurality in the US. As COVID-19 spurs novel changes in MOUD delivery, this inadequate multidimensional understanding of MOUD access may impede the tailoring of interventions to local needs. There is an urgent need for mixed-methods and community-engaged research prioritizing the patient’s perspective of MOUD access by rurality.
Multidimensional assessment of access to medications for opioid use disorder across urban and rural communities: A scoping review
International Journal of Drug Policy, 112, 103931. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2022.103931.