Jail-based reentry programming to support continued treatment with medications for opioid use disorder: Qualitative perspectives and experiences among jail staff in Massachusetts

Dr. Pivovarova and colleagues published a new manuscript.

Abstract (link to manuscript).

Background: People released from jail are at elevated opioid overdose risk. Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) are effective in reducing overdoses. MOUD treatment was recently mandated in seven Massachusetts jails, but little is known about barriers and facilitators to treatment continuity post-release. We aimed to assess MOUD provider perspectives on treatment continuity among people released from jail.

Methods: We conducted qualitative interviews with 36 medical, supervisory, and administrative staff at MOUD programs that serve jail-referred patients. We used the Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, and Sustainment (EPIS) implementation science framework to guide development of instruments, codes, and analyses. We employed deductive and inductive coding, and a grounded theory analytical approach to identify salient themes.

Results: Inner context findings highlighted necessary adjustments among jail staff to approve MOUD treatment, especially with agonist medications that were previously considered contraband. Participants perceived that some staff within jails favored abstinence-based recovery, viewing agonists as a crutch. Bridging results highlighted the importance of inter-agency communication and coordination to ensure information transfer for seamless treatment continuity in the community post-release. Pre-release planning, release on pre-scheduled dates, medication provision to cover gaps between jail release and intake at community MOUD sites, and exchange of treatment information across agencies were viewed as paramount to success. Unexpected early releases and releases from court were viewed as barriers to treatment coordination. Outer context domains were largely tied to social determinants of health. Substantial barriers to treatment continuity included shelter, food security, employment, transportation, and insurance reactivation.

Conclusion: Through qualitative interviews with community-based MOUD staff, we identified salient barriers and facilitators to treatment continuity post-release from jails. Findings point to needed investments in care coordination, staffing, and funding to strengthen jail-to-community-based MOUD treatment, removing barriers to continuity, and decreasing opioid overdose deaths during this high-risk transition

Ayorkor Gaba

Ekaterina Pivovarova