Spatial access to buprenorphine-waivered prescribers in the HEALing communities study: Enhanced 2-step floating catchment area analyses in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Kentucky

Shikhar Shrestha, Megan R Lindstrom, Daniel Harris, Peter Rock, Sumeeta Srinivasan, Jennifer C Pustz, Ric Bayly, Thomas J Stopka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: The opioid overdose epidemic continues to impact a large swath of the population in the US. Medications for opioid use disorders (MOUD) are an effective resource to combat the epidemic; however, there is limited research on MOUD treatment access that accounts for both supply of and demand for services. We aimed to examine access to buprenorphine prescribers in the HEALing Communities Study (HCS) Wave 2 communities in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Kentucky during 2021, and the association between buprenorphine access and opioid-related incidents, specifically fatal overdoses and opioid-related responses by emergency medical services (EMS).

METHODS: We calculated Enhanced 2-Step Floating Catchment Area (E2SFCA) accessibility indices for each state, as well as Wave 2 communities in each state, based on the location of providers (buprenorphine-waivered clinicians from the US Drug Enforcement Agency Active Registrants database), population-weighted centroids at the census block group level, and catchment areas defined by the state or community's average commute time. In advance of intervention initiation, we quantified the opioid-related risk environment of communities. We assessed gaps in services by using bivariate Local Moran's I analysis, incorporating accessibility indices and opioid-related incident data.

RESULTS: Massachusetts Wave 2 HCS communities had the highest rates of buprenorphine prescribers per 1000 patients (median: 165.8) compared to Kentucky (38.8) and Ohio (40.1). While urban centers in all three states had higher E2SFCA index scores compared to rural communities, we observed that suburban communities often had limited access. Through bivariate Local Moran's I analysis, we identified numerous locations with low buprenorphine access surrounded by high opioid-related incidents, particularly in communities that surrounded Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; and Louisville, Kentucky.

CONCLUSION: Rural communities demonstrated a great need for additional access to buprenorphine prescribers. However, policymakers should also direct attention toward suburban communities that have experienced significant increases in opioid-related incidents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209077
JournalJournal of substance use and addiction treatment
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Humans
  • Buprenorphine/therapeutic use
  • Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use
  • Ohio/epidemiology
  • Kentucky/epidemiology
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Massachusetts/epidemiology


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