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    Research News Roundup: April 13, 2023

    Association Between Hospital Adoption of an Emergency Department Treatment Pathway for Opioid Use Disorder and Patient Initiation of Buprenorphine After Discharge

    Journal: JAMA Health Forum, 2023, doi: 10.1001/jamahealthforum.2023.0245

    Authors: Keisha T. Solomon, Jason O’Connor, Jason B. Gibbons, Austin S. Kilaru, Kenneth A. Feder, Lingshu Xue, Brendan Saloner, … Julie M. Donohue


    Importance: Emergency department (ED)-based initiation of buprenorphine has been shown to increase engagement in outpatient treatment and reduce the risk of subsequent opioid overdose; however, rates of buprenorphine treatment in the ED and follow-up care for opioid use disorder (OUD) remain low in the US. The Opioid Hospital Quality Improvement Program (O-HQIP), a statewide financial incentive program designed to increase engagement in OUD treatment for Medicaid-enrolled patients who have ED encounters, has the potential to increase ED-initiated buprenorphine treatment.

    Objective: To evaluate the association between hospitals attesting to an ED buprenorphine treatment O-HQIP pathway and patients’ subsequent initiation of buprenorphine treatment.

    Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study included Pennsylvania patients aged 18 to 64 years with continuous Medicaid enrollment 6 months before their OUD ED encounter and at least 30 days after discharge between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2020. Patients with a claim for medication for OUD 6 months before their index encounter were excluded.

    Exposures: Hospital implementation of an ED buprenorphine treatment O-HQIP pathway.

    Main outcomes and measures: The main outcome was patients’ receipt of buprenorphine within 30 days of their index OUD ED visit. Between August 2021 and January 2023, data were analyzed using a difference-in-differences method to evaluate the association between hospitals’ O-HQIP attestation status and patients’ treatment with buprenorphine after ED discharge.

    Results: The analysis included 17 428 Medicaid-enrolled patients (female, 43.4%; male, 56.6%; mean [SD] age, 37.4 [10.8] years; Black, 17.5%; Hispanic, 7.9%; White, 71.6%; other race or ethnicity, 3.0%) with OUD seen at O-HQIP-attesting or non-O-HQIP-attesting hospital EDs. The rate of prescription fills for buprenorphine within 30 days of an OUD ED discharge in the O-HQIP attestation hospitals before the O-HQIP intervention was 5%. The O-HQIP attestation was associated with a statistically significant increase (2.6 percentage points) in prescription fills for buprenorphine within 30 days of an OUD ED discharge (β, 0.026; 95% CI, 0.005-0.047).

    Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, the O-HQIP was associated with an increased initiation of buprenorphine in patients with OUD presenting to the ED. These findings suggest that statewide incentive programs may effectively improve outcomes for patients with OUD.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Leveraging Digital Technology to Support Pregnant and Early Parenting Women in Recovery from Addictive Substances: A Scoping Review

    Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2023, doi: 10.3390/ijerph20054457

    Authors: Phyllis Raynor, Cynthia Corbett, Delia West, D’Arion Johnston, Kacey Eichelberger, Alain Litwin, Constance Guille & Ron Prinz


    Little is known about digital health interventions used to support treatment for pregnant and early parenting women (PEPW) with substance use disorders (SUD).

    Methods: Guided by the Arksey and O’Malley’s Scoping Review Framework, empirical studies were identified within the CINAHL, PsycInfo, PubMed, and ProQuest databases using subject headings and free-text keywords. Studies were selected based on a priori inclusion/exclusion criteria, and data extraction and descriptive analysis were performed.

    Results: A total of 27 original studies and 30 articles were included. Varying study designs were used, including several feasibility and acceptability studies. However, efficacious findings on abstinence and other clinically important outcomes were reported in several studies. Most studies focused on digital interventions for pregnant women (89.7%), suggesting a dearth of research on how digital technologies may support early parenting women with SUD. No studies included PEPW family members or involved PEPW women in the intervention design.

    Conclusions: The science of digital interventions to support treatment for PEPW is in an early stage, but feasibility and efficacy results are promising. Future research should explore community-based participatory partnerships with PEPW to develop or tailor digital interventions and include family or external support systems to engage in the intervention alongside PEPW.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Journal: Preventive Medicine, 2023, doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2023.107490

    Authors: Shikhar Shrestha, Ric Bayly, Jennifer Pustz, Jared Sawyer, Michelle Van Handel, Cayilyn Lingwall & Thomas J. Stopka


    In 2020, an estimated 2.7 million people in the US had opioid use disorder, increasing their risk of opioid-related morbidity and mortality. While jurisdictional vulnerability assessments (JVA) of opioid-related outcomes have been conducted previously in the US, there has been no unifying methodological framework. Between 2019 and 2021, we prepared ten JVAs, in collaboration with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state public health agencies, to evaluate the risk for opioid-involved overdose (OOD) fatalities and related consequences. Our aim is to share the framework we developed for these ten JVAs, based on our study of the work of Van Handel et al. from 2016, as well as a summary of 18 publicly available assessments of OOD or associated hepatitis C virus infection vulnerability. We developed a three-tiered framework that can be applied by jurisdictions based on the number of units of analysis (e.g., counties, ZIP Codes, census tracts): under 10 (Tier 1), 10 to <50 (Tier 2), and 50 or more (Tier 3). We calculated OOD vulnerability indices based on variable ranks, weighted variable ranks, or multivariable regressions, respectively, for the three tiers. We developed thematic maps, conducted spatial analyses, and visualized service provider locations, drive-time service areas, and service accessibility relative to OOD risk. The methodological framework and examples of our findings from several jurisdictions can be used as a foundation for future assessments and help inform policies to mitigate the impact of the opioid overdose crisis.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Enumerating Contributions of Fentanyls and other Factors to the Unprecedented 2020 Rise in Opioid Overdose Deaths: Model-Based Analysis

    Journal: PNAS Nexus, 2023, doi: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgad064

    Authors: Erin J. Stringfellow, Tse Yang Lim, Catherine DiGennaro, Zeynep Hasgul & Mohammad S. Jalal


    In 2020, the ongoing US opioid overdose crisis collided with the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. Opioid overdose deaths (OODs) rose an unprecedented 38%, due to a combination of COVID-19 disrupting services essential to people who use drugs, continued increases in fentanyls in the illicit drug supply, and other factors. How much did these factors contribute to increased OODs? We used a validated simulation model of the opioid overdose crisis, SOURCE, to estimate excess OODs in 2020 and the distribution of that excess attributable to various factors. Factors affecting OODs that could have been disrupted by COVID-19, and for which data were available, included opioid prescribing, naloxone distribution, and receipt of medications for opioid use disorder. We also accounted for fentanyls’ presence in the heroin supply. We estimated a total of 18,276 potential excess OODs, including 1,792 lives saved due to increases in buprenorphine receipt and naloxone distribution and decreases in opioid prescribing. Critically, growth in fentanyls drove 43% (7,879) of the excess OODs. A further 8% is attributable to first-ever declines in methadone maintenance treatment and extended-released injectable naltrexone treatment, most likely due to COVID-19-related disruptions. In all, 49% of potential excess OODs remain unexplained, at least some of which are likely due to additional COVID-19-related disruptions. While the confluence of various COVID-19-related factors could have been responsible for more than half of excess OODs, fentanyls continued to play a singular role in excess OODs, highlighting the urgency of mitigating their effects on overdoses.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.

    Nicotine on the Developing Brain

    Journal: Pharmacological Research, 2023, doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2023.106716

    Authors: Emily M. Castro, Shahrdad Lotfipour & Frances M. Leslie


    Developmental periods such as gestation and adolescence have enhanced plasticity leaving the brain vulnerable to harmful effects from nicotine use. Proper brain maturation and circuit organization is critical for normal physiological and behavioral outcomes. Although cigarette smoking has declined in popularity, noncombustible nicotine products are readily used. The misperceived safety of these alternatives lead to widespread use among vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and adolescents. Nicotine exposure during these sensitive developmental windows is detrimental to cardiorespiratory function, learning and memory, executive function, and reward related circuitry. In this review, we will discuss clinical and preclinical evidence of the adverse alterations in the brain and behavior following nicotine exposure. Time-dependent nicotine-induced changes in reward related brain regions and drug reward behaviors will be discussed and highlight unique sensitivities within a developmental period. We will also review long lasting effects of developmental exposure persisting into adulthood, along with permanent epigenetic changes in the genome which can be passed to future generations. Taken together, it is critical to evaluate the consequences of nicotine exposure during these vulnerable developmental windows due to its direct impact on cognition, potential trajectories for other substance use, and implicated mechanisms for the neurobiology of substance use disorders.

    To read the full text of the article, please visit the publisher’s website.