Problematisk opioidanvändning : om opioidrelaterade dödsfall och LARO i södra Sverige
Sammanfattning: Problematic opioid use constitutes an extensive global problem. Correspondingly, opioid-related mortality is high and has increased in several Western countries, including Sweden, during the 2000s. In Sweden, the most effective treatment method, opioid substitution treatment (OST), was for a long time limited with respect to the number of patients. The treatment was also characterized by strict rules and conducted in a high-threshold manner, which has meant that it has not been fully appealing to people with problematic opioid use. Therefore, in Skåne County in southern Sweden, patient choice of treatment provider was introduced for OST in 2014 with the intention to increase the number of treatment places and strengthen patient empowerment. The overall aims of this thesis are (1) to investigate opioid-related deaths in Skåne with a focus on contact with care-providing authorities and in relation to increased access to OST, and (2) to examine patients’ and clinic managers’ attitudes towards the introduction of the patient choice reform for OST and their views of the reform's objectives of increased accessibility to OST and strengthening patients' empowerment and influence over their treatment.The four papers in this thesis are based on two research projects with various empiric material. Paper I and II are based on data on opioid overdose deaths from a period of two years before and two years following the introduction of the patient choice reform. Forensic data regarding the presence of various substances and which opioid caused the death, as well as demographic data and information on contact with care-providing authorities (health care, social services, and the Prison and Probation Service), were collected. Paper I examines clinical background and contact with care-providing authorities of opioid-related fatalities, as well as differences with regard to which opioid caused the death. Paper II examines the possible impact of the intervention on the development of opioid-related deaths in the region. National mortality data were also used in this study to investigate the development in Skåne compared to the rest of Sweden. The second research project focused on stakeholders’ views on the implementation of the patient choice reform. Paper III includes interviews with 33 OST patients, and paper IV consists of interviews with the managers of all OST clinics in Skåne. The results from paper I show that of the 180 deceased in opioid overdose included in the study, almost 90 per cent had been in contact with one of the examined care-providing authorities during the year prior to death. Few differences appeared with regard to which opioid contributed to the death. Paper II indicates that there has been no significant change in opioid-related deaths in Skåne after the patient choice reform and increased access to OST. An analysis on national mortality data however showed a significant yearly decrease in drug-related deaths in Skåne compared to other Swedish counties in the years following the reform (2015–2017). No change was noted in deaths related to methadone or buprenorphine in Skåne. The proportion of deaths among patients in OST increased after the introduction of the reform. The third paper indicates that patients in OST in Skåne have gained increased empowerment and influence over their treatment since the patient choice reform was introduced. Patients especially appreciated the knowledge that they could make an exit and change clinics if they so wished, even if they so far had chosen not to. In paper IV, the clinic managers were largely positive to the trend towards increased influence for patients over their treatment situation. They were more critical of the fact that there was no major differentiation between treatment providers, and that the competition that arose after the patient choice reform mainly was related to prescribing benzodiazepines.Conclusions drawn from the papers in this thesis include that patient choice of treatment provider can be viewed as a means of empowerment for patients in OST, which was regarded as positive by both patients and treatment providers. The limitations of such a system for providing OST that emerged were lack of diversity between clinics and that the competition between treatment providers largely comprised of differing views on the prescription of benzodiazepines. Further, improved access to low-threshold OST in Skåne was not associated with an increased overdose death-rate. The result that people who died from opioid overdose to a very large extent are known to society’s care-providing authorities suggests that there are considerable opportunities to reach people with problematic opioid use for therapeutic and harm reducing measures such as low-threshold OST and take-home naloxone.
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