Opioid use has escalated dramatically resulting in an increase in deaths. Access to treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) is poor. The addition of nurse practitioners (NPs) as prescribers of methadone for OUD offers potential for improving access. Little is known about what support NPs will require as they prescribe methadone.
This paper identifies facilitators and barriers to NPs prescribing methadone.
In this qualitative study, in-person and phone semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 participants. Participants included NPs (n=5), physicians (n=5), and stakeholders including members of professional regulatory bodies and government, academics and other clinicians (n=8). Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis and software (NVivo 12.4.0) for data management.
Four themes emerged: 1) Pervasive Barrier of Stigma; 2) Perceived Complexity of Patients Living with OUD; 3) NP Education and Practice Supports and; 4) Health Care Context and NP Role Implementation.
Barriers and facilitators to NP prescribing are similar to those encountered by physicians. Factors unique to NPs include the identification of role clarity as a facilitator and navigation of physician networks as a barrier. Research conducted with current NP methadone prescribers is required to evaluate implementation of this service.