Applying Critical Race Theory to investigate the impact of COVID-19-related policy changes on racial/ethnic disparities in medication treatment for opioid use disorder

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Principal Investigator(s):

With the rise in opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose, racialized disparities in buprenorphine access and use are a significant concern nationally—studies estimate that Black patients with OUD are 50-60% less likely to access buprenorphine compared to White patients, and similar disparities have also been observed for Hispanic/Latinx patients. COVID-19-related policy changes increased flexibility in the provision of buprenorphine and other effective medications for OUD over telehealth and present an unprecedented opportunity to examine impacts of a structural intervention—relaxed MOUD restrictions—on disparities that result from structural racism and discrimination (SRD). The proposed study, guided by Public Health Critical Race Praxis, will use data from the nation’s largest provider of substance use care and quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the impact of these policy changes on racialized disparities for Black and Hispanic/Latinx patients to inform future policy and interventions to improve equitable care for OUD.

Project Period:
April 1, 2022 January 31, 2027

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Practice Type(s):
Veterans Health Administration

Patient Population(s):

Targeted Condition(s):
Health disparities, Substance use disorders/misuse