Intent to Refer: Exploring Bias Toward Specific Medication-Assisted Treatments by Community Corrections Employees [2018]

Background: As opioid use increases in the United States, especially in the correctional population, the most effective treatment approaches need to be utilized. Research has shown that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) provides better outcomes than traditional treatment approaches alone, but is underutilized among correctional-supervised populations.

Objective: This article looks at how previously identified barriers to implementing MAT can create potential biases regarding the intent to refer individuals to either buprenorphine or methadone among treatment and correctional staff within community corrections. The varying advantages of each medication are discussed to highlight the importance of individualized treatment planning.

Methods: Data were collected from 959 treatment specialists and community-corrections officers between 2010 and 2013. The participants were employed by one of 20 community corrections agencies that were selected and randomized within a cluster design. The data were part of a larger study that tested how the experimental condition of organizational linkages impacted the use of MAT in the criminal justice system. In order to analyze the data, multinomial logistic regression was used.

Results: Results showed that some community corrections employees were likely to refer clients to use methadone, but not buprenorphine (or vice versa) which was influenced by work setting, level of education, training, and negative perceptions of MAT as a substitute addiction. However, these biases could be minimized by proper training.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that proper training should be mandatory for these employees and include information about various MATs while also addressing the negative perception that MAT is a substitute addiction.

S. E. Streisel
Substance Use & Misuse, 29 Jun 2018