Opioid replacement therapy: a wait unmanaged

Document Type


Publication details

Harlow, W, Happell, B & Browne, G 2011, 'Opioid replacement therapy: a wait unmanaged', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 418-427.

Published article available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2011.00748.x

Peer Reviewed



There has been a rapid increase in members of the Australian population using opioids in recent years. The flow-on effect has been an increase in demand for treatments, particularly opioid replacement therapy (ORT), but the availability of treatments has not increased. This has frequently resulted in delays before treatment can be commenced. Outcomes could improve if health-care professionals had clearer guidelines on how to prioritize access to ORT. This review investigates the triage of consumers in ORT within Australia. Information on triage in ORT was not available, and an understanding of how consumer needs are managed when they present for ORT triage was not identified. In the absence of research to guide this practice, the body of evidence regarding ORT treatment access is weighted on government policies. Triage, as applied in general health and mental health-care service delivery, was reviewed to consider the components of triage and how these might pertain to triage in ORT. Failure to facilitate the needs of consumers accessing ORT can result in further harm to consumers and increased social and financial costs for society. Research is required to investigate how this issue is currently being managed and to lead the way for needed improvements in service delivery.

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