News Release

Exploring the effectiveness of telehealth in opioid use disorder

Peer-Reviewed Publication

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Penn Nursing's Dr. Shoshana Aronowitz

image: Shoshana V. Aronowitz, PhD, MSHP, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor in Penn Nursing’s Department of Family and Community Health view more 

Credit: Shoshana Aronowitz

PHILADELPHIA (December 6, 2021) – The majority of individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) face access barriers to evidence-based treatment. While the COVID-19 pandemic offered an opportunity to address OUD treatment access barriers by allowing for expanded use of telehealth, is it not yet clear if this technology will help eliminate those barriers or exacerbate pre-existing treatment inequities.

A study of staff working with marginalized patients at low-barrier treatment programs in Philadelphia has highlighted how telehealth can facilitate treatment for many with OUD; prescribers and staff in the study indicated that telehealth has lowered access barriers to treatment. However, they also shared that the digital divide still limits the effectiveness of this technology and their concerns that telehealth visits many not be as in-person treatment for some patients who struggle to engage in treatment.

“Telehealth may address many access issues. However, barriers to implementation remain, including patient ability and desire to attend healthcare appointments virtually,” explains lead-investigator Shoshana V. Aronowitz, PhD, MSHP, FNP-BC, Assistant Professor in Penn Nursing’s Department of Family and Community Health. “In addition, the potential for telehealth models to extend OUD care to patients currently underserved by in-person models may partially depend on clinician comfort treating patients deemed unstable via this modality.”

Results of the study have been published in an article, “Telehealth for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in Low‑Barrier Clinic Settings: An Exploration of Clinician and Staff Perspectives” in Harm Reduction Journal, which is available online.

Coauthors of the article include Eden Engel‑Rebitzer, Zachary Meisel, Eugenia South, and Margaret Lowenstein, all of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine; Abby Dolan and Kehinde Oyekanmi, both of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Emergency Care Policy and Research; and David Mandell of the Penn Center for Mental Health. The study was supported by a Robert Wood Johnson Alumni Activation Fund pilot grant and by the Centers for Disease Control grant R01CE003143.

# # #

About the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing  

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the world’s leading schools of nursing. For the sixth year in a row, it is ranked the #1 nursing school in the world by QS University. In a first for any undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in the country, our BSN program is ranked # 1 in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings. Penn Nursing is also consistently ranked highly in the U.S. News & World Report annual list of best graduate schools and is ranked as one of the top schools of nursing in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Penn Nursing prepares nurse scientists and nurse leaders to meet the health needs of a global society through innovation in research, education, and practice. Follow Penn Nursing on: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, & Instagram

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.