Practice Predictors of Buprenorphine Prescribing by Family Physicians

RUHRC Authors: Peterson, LE | Borders, T
Publication Date: 01/01/2020
Full Publication: Practice Predictors of Buprenorphine Prescribing by Family Physicians


Introduction: Both opioid use disorder and mortality for opioid overdoses are increasing. Family physicians (FPs) can treat opioid use disorder if they are waivered to prescribe buprenorphine. Our objective was to determine personal, practice, and community characteristics associated with FPs prescribing buprenorphine.

Methods: We used data from the 2017 and 2018 American Board of Family Medicine examination registration questionnaire. The questionnaire asked about current prescribing of buprenorphine, as well as about practice size, organization, and location. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between buprenorphine treatment and individual, practice, and county characteristics.

Results: The questionnaire had a 100% response rate. After excluding FPs in noncontinuity practices and those who could not be linked to a US county, our final sample was 2726. Only 161 (5.9%) prescribed buprenorphine. Practice in a Federal Qualified Health Center (adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR] 1.98 (95% CI, 1.08, 3.63)), in solo practice (aOR 2.60 (1.38, 4.92)), or with a mental health professional (aOR 2.70 (1.73, 4.22)) were positively associated with prescribing buprenorphine. Practice in a rural county or in a whole county mental health professional shortage area were not associated with buprenorphine prescribing.

Discussion: Few FPs prescribed buprenorphine, but those in practice settings with supporting mental health services were more likely to prescribe. With their training in the biopsychosocial model and a more even distribution across the rural continuum, FPs are perfectly situated to meet the increasing need for medication-assisted treatment. However, ensuring they have supporting mental health services will be central to having more FPs provide medication-assisted treatment. ( J Am Board Fam Med 2020; 33:118 –123.)

Suggested Citation

Peterson LE, Morgan ZJ, Borders TF. Practice Predictors of Buprenorphine Prescribing by Family Physicians. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2020;33(1):118-123; DOI: