Patient-Reported Goals of Youths in Canada Receiving Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder Academic Article uri icon

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  • Importance

    In the literature on opioid use disorder (OUD), opioid abstinence is used as an outcome measure for individuals receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT), without consideration of patient-reported goals (PRGs).


    To identify common PRGs for youths receiving MAT for OUD and assess whether these patients achieve their stated goals.

    Design, setting, and participants

    This prospective cohort study examined data from 152 individuals aged 16 to 25 years (noninclusive) recruited between May 22, 2018, and March 11, 2020, from 45 outpatient MAT clinics in the Pharmacogenetics of Opioid Substitution Treatment Response study. Youths receiving MAT for OUD were included and were followed up for 3 months.


    Medication-assisted treatment for OUD.

    Main outcomes and measures

    The frequency of each PRG; the success of goal attainment, compared between those who reported specific PRGs and those who did not; and associations between reporting certain goals and achieving them.


    Among the 152 youths in the study, 82 were male (53.9%), and the mean (SD) age was 22.8 (1.8) years. Ten overarching goals were identified, with the most common being to taper the dose of or stop MAT (96 [63.2%]), avoid use of recreational substances (71 [46.7%]), manage OUD symptoms (25 [16.4%]), live a normal life (14 [9.2%]), improve mental health (11 [7.2%]), and gain employment (8 [5.3%]). Overall, individuals who reported PRGs had similar odds of achieving them as those who did not for the goals of taper dose of or stop MAT (OR, 1.98; 95% CI, 0.88-4.46; P = .10), avoid recreational substances (OR, 1.34; 95% CI, 0.65-2.74; P = .43), manage OUD symptoms (β coefficient, -0.93; 95% CI, -4.24 to 2.38; P = .58), and improve mental health (β coefficient, -0.76; 95% CI, -6.31 to 4.78; P = .79). Furthermore, multivariable logistic regression showed that goals to taper the dose of or stop MAT (odds ratio, 1.90; 95% CI, 0.78-4.63; P = .16) or avoid recreational substances (odds ratio, 1.27; 95% CI, 0.60-2.67; P = .53) were not associated with achieving these respective outcomes.

    Conclusions and relevance

    This study suggests that youths have highly variable PRGs regarding MAT for OUD and that reporting a goal may not mean one is at higher odds of achieving it. There is a need to develop treatment plans that effectively incorporate PRGs. In addition, the finding that most youths aim to minimize or stop their MAT dose warrants the creation of a tapering protocol to guide clinicians. Because a diagnosis of OUD has substantial psychosocial implications in this population, clinicians must ensure that these dimensions of care are part of routine clinical practice.

publication date

  • August 2, 2021