Black Directors of Methadone Clinics Are the Least Likely to Dispense Recommended Minimum Doses

A study led by Jemima A. Frimpong, an assistant professor in the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore shows that a daily dose of at least 60 milligrams of methadone has been effective in reducing heroin usage with a correlating positive impact on HIV incidence.

But this study finds that many patients who are on methadone therapy do receive the recommended minimum dose. And treatment facilities run by African American directors are less likely to provide the recommended minimum dose to patients than managers of other races or ethnic groups. And this is particularly true for African American managers of facilities where a large percentage of the patients are African Americans.

“We know that the problem of low dosing exists, and research has looked at how patient characteristics may play a role,” Dr. Frimpong says. She and her co-authors speculate that there are negative perceptions of methadone in the African-American community, and a preference among those directors for psychosocial treatment, including talk therapy, as a supplement to methadone in treating opiate addiction.

Dr. Frimpong is a graduate of Rutgers University in New Jersey. She earned a master of public health degree from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The study, “The Role of Program Directors in Treatment Practices: The Case of Methadone Dose Patterns in U.S. Outpatient Opioid Agonist Treatment Programs,” was published on the website of the journal Health Services Research. It may be accessed here.

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