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    Despite the existence of effective pharmacotherapies, rates of opioid use disorder and opioid overdose deaths have continued to increase. Emergency department (ED) visits provide an important opportunity to engage in treatment patients with untreated opioid use disorder (OUD). Case management implemented in other settings is effective in linking those with opioid and other drug use disorders to longer-term treatment, but research has not established its efficacy in the ED. Here we report the results of a trial of Strengths-Based Case Management (SBCM) for people with untreated OUD who are identified during ED visits, with the primary goal of linking them to pharmacologic treatment. The study identified patients with untreated OUD during a treatment episode at a large urban ED. The study randomly assigned three hundred participants in 1:1 ratio to receive SBCM or screening, assessment, and referral (SAR) to OUD treatment. Those assigned to SBCM received up to six sessions of SBCM with the primary goal of linkage to treatment. Primary outcomes were initiation of treatment and engagement in pharmacotherapy for OUD. The study defined a "successful outcome" for opioid use as a 3-month urine negative for illicit opioids and no more than 2 days of self-reported opioid misuse in the 4 weeks prior to the 3-month interview. Rates of treatment initiation were not significantly different in the SBCM and SAR groups (57.4% vs. 49.7%, respectively, p > 0.05), nor did engagement in pharmacotherapy differ significantly between groups (p > 0.05). During the 90 days following the index ED visit, SBCM and SAR participants engaged in pharmacotherapy for a mean of 21.8% (SD = 35.1%) versus 17.7% (SD = 31.0%) of days, respectively. Likewise, no significant difference occurred between groups in rates of "successful opioid use outcome" as defined a priori (p > 0.05), although self-reported opioid use over the entire 6-month follow-up period was lower in the SBCM group (10.8 vs. 13.4 days/month, p = 0.042). SBCM-ED did not improve OUD treatment initiation and engagement in this ED study. Although these findings do not necessarily generalize to all EDs, other approaches, such as direct referral or initiation of treatment in the ED, have considerable empirical support, and should be implemented where they are feasible. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Michael P Bogenschutz, Ryan McCormack, Richard Rapp, Sarah Meyers-Ohki, Sarah E Mennenga, Amber Regis, Rhonda Kolaric, Richard Glisker, Peter P Greco. A randomized clinical trial of strengths-based case management to link emergency department patients to opioid use disorder treatment. Journal of substance abuse treatment. 2022 Jul;138:108745

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    PMID: 35341615

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