While mobile methadone units help to increase methadone use among patients with opioid addictions, a study suggested that they will have the greatest benefit in rural areas. The study, published in Health Services Research, examined the impact of providing new treatment services to rural areas, where, as in many other remote areas of the country, there are limited healthcare infrastructures and transportation hurdles.
They contrasted this data to the impact of expanding units statewide, where people have greater access to traditional healthcare facilities.
The research team employed predictive modelling techniques to anticipate new methadone usage following a potential increase in mobile methadone in the state. They looked at examples where mobile methadone operators could choose their sites and others where they were limited to service rural areas to uncover potential regional disparities in their effectiveness.
“Several interconnected factors play a role in the prevalence of opioid use disorders in rural areas and this includes limited access to healthcare services, which is why we wanted to compare this data to help with decision-making when allocating resources to combat this public health crisis,” said first author Jason Gibbons, PhD, assistant professor and a health economist in the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The research finds that adding ten units exclusively to rural Louisiana was associated with a 13 percentage point increase in Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) treatment rates in rural zip codes.
Adding the same number of units across the state, not exclusively in rural areas, was predicted to increase MOUD treatment rates in Louisiana by up to nearly three percentage points. “We find significant geographic variation in the impact of mobile methadone implementation, which means careful location planning will be required to maximise their benefit in other communities,” Gibbons said.
(with inputs from ANI)