This project will explore if the passing of CARA has encouraged more NPs and PAs to apply for a buprenorphine waiver as well as perceived barriers to applying for the buprenorphine waiver and prescribing MAT. We also seek to better understand how the roles and responsibilities of NPs and PAs have changed since CARA was signed into law. This approach will allow us to understand differences in NP and PA roles and responsibilities across time, as well as differences in who has applied for a buprenorphine waiver and those that have not.
The Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center (BHWRC) sent an online survey to 3,711 nurse practitioners and physician assistants about their experiences in, perspectives on, and barriers to providing medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and supplemented that survey with four, 1–hour long key informant interviews. The majority of the 240 survey respondents reported that oral buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone decreased cravings, reduced rates of relapse, and reduced rates of overdose. The respondents were largely unfamiliar with newer MAT drug formulations, like implanted and injected buprenorphine. Policy recommendations for increasing the availability and quality of MAT include, but are not limited to: adding MAT training to the core curricula for graduate nurse practitioner and physician assistant programs, increasing providers’ access to peers providing MAT, and integrating behavioral health and medical settings.