Rurality is Associated with Increased Drive Times to Opioid Treatment Programs in Arizona

Rural AZ Road

Publication Date: Friday, May 14, 2021

Publication Authors: Gildersleeve R, Brady B, Koch B, Campos-Outcalt D, and Derksen D

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is considered an effective treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Historically, MAT was only available at Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs), which limited MAT availability and posed a barrier to access, especially for rural residents. Since 2002, the DEA has allowed waived physicians to prescribe OUD medication from office-based locations. The analysis compares drive times to OTPs with FQHCs to explore how MAT availability at primary care Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in Arizona may increase rural access. We found that in urban centers, drive times are essentially the same (about 10 minutes) to reach OTPs and FQHCs. In remote, rural areas, it takes twice as long to reach an OTP (86 minutes) vs. an FQHC (44 minutes). We also found that MAT provision at FQHC locations could increase access to care in rural areas by reducing drive-time barriers.

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