Nurse-Patient Interaction Helps Reduce Opioid Dependence

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- A team approach to managing opioid dependence with buprenorphine kept 32 of 37 patients (86%) on buprenorphine therapy at 4 months' follow-up, Daniel Alford, M.D., reported in a poster presented at the annual conference of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse.

The patients, who were aged 18-52 years, began treatment over a 6-month period. Most were male (62%) and white (92%). The treatment protocol included an average of two in-person contacts and 15 phone contacts from a nurse care manager during the first 2 weeks, followed by one to four contacts per week. Follow-up visits included random urine samples, pill counts, and observations of dosing.

The team approach featured extensive interaction between patients and nurse care managers, with physician assessments and consultations.

The nurse care manager made the initial assessment of each patient's substance use, medical and psychiatric history, and social support system by telephone, Dr. Alford said.

Physicians reviewed and further assessed the patients before enrolling them in the study and prescribing buprenorphine.

The physicians also performed physical exams at enrollment and 4 months after the start of treatment. …