Attitudes and Beliefs Regarding Opioid Maintenance Treatment in Portugal: A Survey to Physicians, Patients and Opioid Users

João Goulão

Abstract


Background: There is a paucity of pan-European research on the state of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) from the perspective of the physicians who provide it, the patients who receive it and the opioid users who remain outside of the treatment system. Project ACCESS, a Europe-wide survey involving 11 countries, explored physicians’, patients’ and users’ attitudes and beliefs regarding the quality of and access to medication-assisted treatment. This report presents key findings from Portugal.
Material and Methods: Physicians who treat opioid-dependent patients with medication-assisted treatment were interviewed face-to-face; patients in medication-assisted treatment, patients not in medication-assisted treatment (in therapy without medication), and users (opioiddependent persons not currently in therapy) received self-completion questionnaires.
Results: The survey found that treatment for opioid-dependent individuals in Portugal is currently judged to be good by patients and physicians. Access to treatment was reported to be easy by the majority of patients and physicians and there was a high level of satisfaction among patients. However, patient awareness of medication-assisted treatment options is currently sub-optimal in Portugal and doses of medication-assisted treatment were frequently low.
Discussion: The results of the ACCESS project, as far as medication-assisted treatment is concerned, are encouraging and highlight both the success areas and those that need to be improved in the future within the system of treatment for opioid-dependent individuals in Portugal.
Conclusions: Project ACCESS provides a valuable assessment of attitudes and beliefs regarding medication-assisted treatment in Portugal. These data should help inform future decision-making to optimize responses to treatment at the patient and public health level.

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