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BMC health services research


BACKGROUND: Pragmatic primary care trials aim to test interventions in "real world" health care settings, but clinics willing and able to participate in trials may not be representative of typical clinics. This analysis compared patients in participating and non-participating clinics from the same health systems at baseline in the PRimary care Opioid Use Disorders treatment (PROUD) trial.

METHODS: This observational analysis relied on secondary electronic health record and administrative claims data in 5 of 6 health systems in the PROUD trial. The sample included patients 16-90 years at an eligible primary care visit in the 3 years before randomization. Each system contributed 2 randomized PROUD trial clinics and 4 similarly sized non-trial clinics. We summarized patient characteristics in trial and non-trial clinics in the 2 years before randomization ("baseline"). Using mixed-effect regression models, we compared trial and non-trial clinics on a baseline measure of the primary trial outcome (clinic-level patient-years of opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment, scaled per 10,000 primary care patients seen) and a baseline measure of the secondary trial outcome (patient-level days of acute care utilization among patients with OUD).

RESULTS: Patients were generally similar between the 10 trial clinics (n = 248,436) and 20 non-trial clinics (n = 341,130), although trial clinics' patients were slightly younger, more likely to be Hispanic/Latinx, less likely to be white, more likely to have Medicaid/subsidized insurance, and lived in less wealthy neighborhoods. Baseline outcomes did not differ between trial and non-trial clinics: trial clinics had 1.0 more patient-year of OUD treatment per 10,000 patients (95% CI: - 2.9, 5.0) and a 4% higher rate of days of acute care utilization than non-trial clinics (rate ratio: 1.04; 95% CI: 0.76, 1.42).

CONCLUSIONS: trial clinics and non-trial clinics were similar regarding most measured patient characteristics, and no differences were observed in baseline measures of trial primary and secondary outcomes. These findings suggest trial clinics were representative of comparably sized clinics within the same health systems. Although results do not reflect generalizability more broadly, this study illustrates an approach to assess representativeness of clinics in future pragmatic primary care trials.

Medical Subject Headings

United States; Humans; Opioid-Related Disorders; Medicaid; Insurance; Electronic Health Records; Primary Health Care

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