Covid-19 public health road map: Opioid substitution treatment (OST) adherence

Hannah Family, Angel Chater, Myles-Jay Linton, Neil Howlett, Rosalind Gittins, Lindsey Hines, Jenny Scott, Elizabeth Jenkinson, Vivien Swanson, Tracy Epton, Nicky Knowles, Shanara Abdin, Jo Hart, Atiya Kamal, Lucie Byrne-Davis, Chris Armitage, Madelynne A Arden, Ellie Whittaker, Paul Chadwick, Lesley LewisDaryl O'Connor, John Drury, Emily McBride, Gillian Shorter

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Behavioural Science Recommendations
Adhering to opioids prescribed as part of OST can benefit both physical and psychological health. OST adherence of those prescribed is influenced by what they know and what they can do (capability); people around them and the physical environment (opportunity); and by beliefs, what they want, how they see themselves, how they regulate emotion, and habit (motivation).

To support changes since COVID-19:
• Facilitate the planning and development of OST services, which enable individuals to receive support and timely access to OST3-7, and offer assertive outreach and virtual consultations where appropriate,
• Continue to liberalise OST dispensing arrangements where appropriate, guided by an individuals' risk assessment which includes risk of diversion, safeguarding, and safe storage arrangements. Providers must communicate effectively with the individual and collaborate on proposed changes to dispensing arrangements to support adherence,
• Where needed, adjust services to facilitate physical-distancing, self-isolating, quality of life, and shielding (if relevant); this may include dispensing larger volumes for self-administration at home, delivery of medication, long-acting formulations, and/or identification of a nominated individual to assist in the collection, management, or safe storage of prescriptions. Support access to digital devices for those receiving mobile or online support,
• Vaccine uptake (including hepatitis B and COVID-19 vaccines) to be encouraged and facilitated8-9,
• Continue harm reduction interventions, holistic, and wrap-around support services10 such as take-home naloxone and needle syringe provision; blood borne virus screening and treatment; psychosocial interventions (including digital and virtual options); advice on self-care, health, and wellbeing; and services to facilitate housing and safe shelter for those who are homeless or vulnerably housed11, or otherwise at risk.

We recommend following the British Psychological Society's Behavioural Science and Disease Prevention: Psychological guidance12 to shape any policy and communications strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeicester
PublisherBritish Psychological Society
Commissioning bodyBritish Psychological Society
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Co-Chair of the Health Behaviour and COVID-19 working group that produced these documents 7/9


  • opioid overdose
  • opioid substitution theory
  • treatment adherence
  • behaviour change


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