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The lived experience of Australian opioid replacement therapy recipients in a community-based program in regional Victoria

By Tejaswini Patil, Penelope Cash, Robyn Cant, Jane Mummery and Wendy Penney


Introduction and Aims Treatment of opioid dependence through opioid replacement therapy is widely recognised as effective. Nonetheless, while there has been a community-based program in the state of Victoria for over two decades, consumer experiences have received little attention. This study aimed to describe the experiences of opioid replacement therapy consumers living in rural and regional areas of the state. Design and Methods A qualitative design employed an interpretative phenomenological approach. Sixteen consumers were interviewed. Thematic analysis was conducted by the researchers to examine the phenomena of consumers ' experiences and findings were verified by a stakeholder group. Results Findings centred on themes of consumers ' experience of becoming recipients; consumer perceptions of pharmacists and pharmacy settings and psychosocial impacts on consumers. A majority of participants believed opioid replacement therapy brought increased normality to their life, however systemic and psychosocial barriers impacted on well-being. The pharmacy setting itself as a public dosing space commonly provoked feelings of stigma and discrimination among consumers. Other barriers prominently reported were restrictions on number of takeaways, cost of dispensing and lack of access to medical practitioners and allied supports. Discussion and Conclusions There were psychosocial impacts on opioid replacement therapy consumers relating to financial and social burdens, stigma and discrimination. Access to medical care and a choice of pharmacy appeared to be restricted in rural regions. The findings suggest a need to address, in particular, the financial and dispensing point burdens experienced by consumers to facilitate program retention

Topics: 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 16 Studies in Human Society, 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences, Consumer perceptions, Opioid replacement therapy, Opiate substitution, Therapy, Pharmacotherapy in regional Victoria, Qualitative research
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Year: 2019
DOI identifier: 10.1111/dar.12979
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