Knowledge of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of patients receiving opioid substitution treatment (OST) is limited and fragmented. The present study examines the HRQOL of a large national sample of OST patients in Germany and sociodemographic and clinical correlates.
Cross-sectional data on the HRQOL of 2176 OST patients was compared with German general population norms. Patients were recruited from 63 OST practices across Germany. To identify correlates of HRQOL, as measured with the SF-12, we performed bi- and multivariate analyses with sociodemographic and clinical variables, including patient- and clinician-reported outcomes on physical and mental health.
Patients’ HRQOL was significantly poorer than in the general population, especially their mental HRQOL. Factors associated with lower physical HRQOL were older age, longer duration of opioid dependence, hepatitis C virus infection, and HIV infection. Benzodiazepine use was associated with lower mental HRQOL, and amphetamine use with higher physical HRQOL, compared to non-use of these substances. For both mental and physical HRQOL, the factor with the strongest positive association was employment and the factors with the strongest negative associations were physical and mental health symptom severity, psychiatric diagnosis, and psychopharmacological medication.
Compared to the general population, we found substantially lower HRQOL in OST patients, especially in their mental HRQOL. OST programs can benefit from further improvement, particularly with regard to mental health services, in order to better serve their patients’ needs. Clinicians may consider the use of patient-reported outcome measures to identify patients’ subjective physical and psychological needs. Further research is needed to determine if employment is a cause or consequence of improved HRQOL.
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02395198, retrospectively registered 16/03/2015