Objective To understand the most significant aspects of care experienced by people in opioid substitution treatment (OST) in primary care settings.
Design Semistructured individual interviews were conducted, following the critical incidents technique. Interview transcripts were analysed following a thematic analysis approach.
Participants Adults aged 18 years or older, receiving OST in UK-based primary care services.
Results Twenty-four people in OST were interviewed between January and March 2019. Participants reported several aspects which were significant for their treatment, when engaging with the primary care service. These were grouped into 10 major themes: (1) humanised care; (2) individual bond/connection with the professional; (3) professionals’ experience and knowledge; (4) having holistic care; (5) familiarity; (6) professionals’ commitment and availability to help; (7) anonymity; (8) location; (9) collaborative teamwork; and (10) flexibility and changes around the treatment plan.
Conclusions This study included first-hand accounts of people who use drugs about what supports them in their recovery journey. The key lessons learnt from our findings indicate that people who use drugs value receiving treatment in humanised and destigmatised environments. We also learnt that a good relationship with primary care professionals supports their recovery journey, and that treatment plans should be flexible, tailor-made and collaboratively designed with patients.
- opiate substitution treatment
- primary health care
- qualitative research
- experiences of care
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Contributors All authors of this manuscript contributed significantly to the work presented, as follows: conception and design of the work by PCGA, FAS, SM, NP AW and CF; acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data by PCGA, SM and NP; drafting the manuscript and revising it critically for important intellectual content by PCGA, FAS, SM, NP AW and CF; final approval of the version to be published by PCGA, FAS, SM, NP AW and CF; and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved by PCGA, FAS, SM, NP AW and CF.
Funding This work was supported by the National Institute for Health Research School of Primary Care Research, Project No 406 (Reference: SPCR-2014-10043), co-led by PCGA and FAS.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Ethics approval Ethics approval was granted from the NHS Health Research Authority/Hampstead Research Ethics Committee (18/LO/1402).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement No data are available. The experiences of people discussed during the interviews refer to sensitive and personally relevant stories, and it was agreed that any transcripts would be made available to the research team only, and not publicly shared to ensure full protection and anonymity of study participants.
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