Many primary care clinicians (PCCs) hold stigma toward people with opioid use disorder (OUD), which may be a barrier to care. Few interventions exist to address PCC stigma toward people with OUD. This study examined whether an online training incorporating patient narratives reduced PCCs’ stigma toward people with OUD (primary) and increased intentions to treat people with OUD compared to an attention-control training (secondary).
PCCs from 15 primary care clinics were invited to complete a 30 min online training for an electronic health record-embedded clinical decision support (CDS) tool that alerts PCCs to screen, diagnose, and treat people with OUD. PCCs were randomized to receive a stigma-reduction version of the training with patient narrative videos or a control training without patient narratives and were blinded to group assignment. Immediately after the training, PCCs completed surveys of stigma towards people with OUD and intentions and willingness to treat OUD. CDS tool use was monitored for 6 months. Analyses included independent samples t-tests, Pearson correlations, and logistic regression.
A total of 162 PCCs were randomized; 88 PCCs (58% female; 68% white) completed the training (Stigma = 48; Control = 40) and were included in analyses. There was no significant difference between intervention and control groups for stigma (t = − 0.48, p = .64, Cohen’s d = − 0.11), intention to get waivered (t = 1.11, p = .27, d = 0.26), or intention to prescribe buprenorphine if a waiver were no longer required (t = 0.90, p = 0.37, d = 0.21). PCCs who reported greater stigma reported lower intentions both to get waivered (r = − 0.25, p = 0.03) and to prescribe buprenorphine with no waiver (r = − 0.25, p = 0.03). Intervention group and self-reported stigma were not significantly related to CDS tool use.
Stigma toward people with OUD may require more robust intervention than this brief training was able to accomplish. However, stigma was related to lower intentions to treat people with OUD, suggesting stigma acts as a barrier to care. Future work should identify effective interventions to reduce stigma among PCCs.