Due to the high prevalence of mental disorders among people with opioid use disorder, the objective of this study was to determine the association between concurrent mental disorders, mortality, morbidity, and continuous treatment retention for patients in opioid agonist treatment in Ontario, Canada.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients enrolled in opioid agonist treatment between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2015. Patients were stratified into two groups: those diagnosed with concurrent mental disorders and opioid use disorder and those with opioid use disorder only, using data from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan Database, Ontario Drug Benefit Plan Database. The primary outcome studied was all-cause mortality using data from the Registered Persons Database. Emergency department visits from the National Ambulatory Care Database, hospitalizations Discharge Abstract Database, and continuous retention in treatment, defined as 1 year of uninterrupted opioid agonist treatment using data from the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan Database were measured as secondary outcomes. Encrypted patient identifiers were used to link information across databases.
We identified 55,924 individuals enrolled in opioid agonist treatment, and 87% had a concurrent mental disorder diagnosis during this period. We observed that having a mental disorder was associated with an increased likelihood of all-cause mortality (odds ratio (OR) 1.4; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–1.5). For patients diagnosed with mental disorders, the estimated rate of ED visits per year was 2.25 times higher and estimated rate of hospitalization per year was 1.67 times higher than for patients with no mental disorders. However, there was no association between having a diagnosis of a mental disorder and 1-year treatment retention in OAT-adjusted hazard ratio (HR) = 1.0; 95% CI 0.9 to 1.1.
Our findings highlight the consequences of the high prevalence of mental disorders for individuals with opioid use disorder in Ontario, Canada.