Perceptions of injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) among people who regularly use opioids in Australia: findings from a cross-sectional study in three Australian cities

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Background and aims: Not all people experiencing opioid dependence benefit from oral opioid agonist treatment. The aim of this study was to examine perceptions of (supervised) injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) (described as ‘an opioid similar to heroin self-injected at a clinic several times a day’) among people who regularly use opioids and determine how common iOAT eligibility criteria accord with interest in iOAT. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart, Australia. Participants: A total of 344 people (63% male) who use opioids regularly and had ever injected opioids, interviewed December 2017–March 2018. The mean age of participants was 41.5 years [standard deviation (SD) = 8.5]. Measurements: Primary outcome measures were interest in iOAT, factors associated with interest and the proportion of participants who would be eligible using common criteria from trials and guidelines. We examined willingness to travel for iOAT, medication preferences and perspectives on whom should receive iOAT. Findings: Overall, 53% of participants (n = 182) believed that iOAT would be a good treatment option for them. Participants who believed that iOAT was a good treatment option for them were more likely to be male [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.76, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.10–2.82], have used heroin in the past month (aOR = 6.03, 95% CI = 2.86–12.71), currently regularly inject opioids (aOR = 1.84, 95% CI = 1.16–2.91) and have met ICD-10 criteria for opioid dependence (aOR = 3.46, 95% CI = 1.65–7.24). Those interested in iOAT had commenced more treatment episodes (aOR =1.06, 95% CI = 1.00–1.12). Among those interested in iOAT (n = 182), 26% (n = 48) met common eligibility criteria for iOAT. Conclusions: Interest in injectable opioid agonist treatment does not appear to be universal among people who regularly use opioids. Among study participants who expressed interest in injectable opioid agonist treatment, most did not meet common eligibility criteria.

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National Institutes of Health



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