Social functioning outcomes in men and women receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder [2020]

Social functioning (SF), the ability to engage with life and fulfill roles may be a salient “patient important outcome” in addiction treatment. It is not known if medication-assisted treatment (MAT) impacts SF in opioid use disorder (OUD). There is a growing evidence to suggest that men and women are impacted differently by OUD. This study is the largest to date to study sex differences in OUD and explore associations between MAT and SF.

Data were collected from 2736 participants with OUD, enrolled in MAT for varying lengths of time, in outpatient clinics across Ontario. SF was defined according to the Maudsley Addiction Profile’s domains of (1) employment, (2) criminal activity, and (3) interpersonal conflict. Using logistic regression analysis, we examined sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with domains of SF.

There were 1544 men (56%) and 1192 women (44%) in this study, and ages varied from 17 to 76 years for men and 18 to 69 years for women. At study entry, participants had been on MAT for a median of 2 years. Compared to men, women reported more psychological (mean MAP score 14/40, SD = 9.55, versus 11/40, SD = 8.64; p < 0.001) and physical symptoms (mean MAP score 17/40, SD = 7.70 versus 14/40, SD = 7.74; p < 0.001). More women reported unemployment(74% versus 58%; p < 0.0001) and interpersonal conflict (46% versus 35%; p < 0.0001). Men were more likely than women to report criminal activity (11%, versus 8%; p = 0.001). Psychological symptoms increased the risk of worse SF, across domains, for men and for women. Every year on MAT was associated with a 7% increase in the odds of women engaging with criminal activity (OR = 1.07, 95% CI 1.02, 1.12, p = 0.006).

Men and women had different SF profiles and psychological symptoms scores while on MAT. The length of time on MAT increased the risk of criminal activity in women, and overall, duration of MAT was not associated with improvement in SF. This may suggest that MAT alone may not support continual improvements in SF in OUD.

Emma A. van Reekum, Tea Rosic, Jacqueline Hudson, Nitika Sanger, David C. Marsh, Andrew Worster, Lehana Thabane & Zainab Samaan
Biology of Sex Differences, Volume 11, Article number: 20 (2020)