Publications & Reports

The impact of opioid agonist treatment on hospitalisations for injecting-related diseases among an opioid dependent population: A retrospective data linkage study.

Colledge-Frisby S, Jones N, Larney S, Peacock A, Lewer D, Brothers TD, Hickman M, Farrell M, Degenhardt L
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia; Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia. Electronic address: [email protected]


BACKGROUND: Injecting-related bacterial and fungal infections cause substantial illness and disability among people who use illicit drugs. Opioid agonist treatment (OAT) reduces injecting frequency and the transmission of blood borne viruses. We estimated the impact of OAT on hospitalisations for non-viral infections and examine trends in incidence over time. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study using linked administrative data. The cohort included 47 163 individuals starting OAT between August 2001 and December 2017 in New South Wales, Australia, with 454 951 person-years of follow-up. The primary outcome was hospitalisation for an injecting-related disease. The primary exposure was OAT status (out of OAT, first four weeks of OAT, and OAT retention [i.e., more than four weeks in treatment]). Covariates included demographic characteristics, year of hospitalisation, and recent clinical treatment. RESULTS: 9122 participants (19.3%) had at least one hospitalisation for any injecting-related disease. Compared to time out of treatment, retention on OAT was associated with a reduced rate of injecting-related diseases (adjusted rate ratio[ARR]=0.92; 95%CI 0.87-0.97). The first four weeks of treatment was associated with an increased rate (ARR 1.53, 95%CI 1.38-1.70), which we believe is explained by referral pathways between hospital and community OAT services. The age-adjusted incidence rates of hospitalisations for any injecting-related disease increased from 34.8 (95% CI =30.2-40.0) per 1000 person-years in 2001 to 54.9 (95%CI=51.3-58.8) in 2017. INTERPRETATION: Stable OAT is associated with reduced hospitalisations for injecting-related bacterial infections; however, OAT appears insufficient to prevent these harms as the rate of these infections is increasing in Australia.

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  • Journal: Drug and Alcohol Dependence
  • Published: 13/05/2022
  • Volume: 236
  • Pagination: 109494

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