Rutgers researcher discusses opioid treatment in rural areas

<p>There have not been any long-term studies of opioid treatment outcomes for patients in rural areas.</p>

There have not been any long-term studies of opioid treatment outcomes for patients in rural areas.

A study by Rutgers University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University found that previous research on the opioid epidemic does not adequately address how to improve resources and treatment for rural communities, according to an article from Rutgers Today.

“We saw multiple gaps in terms of research in rural settings even though these communities surpassed the urban overdose-death rate in 2015,” said Jamey Lister, lead author and an assistant professor at Rutgers School of Social Work, according to the article. “Primarily, there are no long-term studies of treatment outcomes for rural patients, no attention to racial minorities in rural settings, limited attention to rural treatment barriers in the Midwest and no studies that asked rural patients for their perspectives on medication treatment.”

The researchers conducted a systematic review of previous opioid-use disorder studies to identify provider-focused treatment barriers, according to the study. Many rural Americans do not have medication or treatment providers in their area, and traveling to these providers can be difficult. 

The researchers highlighted the need for improved access to medicine through means such as telemedicine. They also promoted inexpensive treatment options through subsidies to cover the cost of travel to medical facilities and by allowing pharmacists to administer prescriptions. 

Lister said academics, healthcare systems, policymakers and community advocates should work together to implement these strategies. He will present his recommendations to these groups at the National Rural Health Association’s Rural Health Policy Institute in February.

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