BACKGROUND: Contingency management (CM) is one of the only behavioral interventions shown to be effective for the treatment of opioid use disorders when delivered alone and in combination with pharmacotherapy. Despite extensive empirical support, uptake of CM in community settings remains abysmally low. The current study applied user-centered design principles to gather qualitative data on familiarity with CM, current clinical practice, and preferences regarding the implementation of CM in community-based opioid treatment programs.
METHODS: Participants were 21 leaders and 22 front-line counselors from 11 community-based opioid treatment programs. Semi-structured interviews were about 45 min long. Transcripts from each interview were coded by independent raters and analyzed using a reflexive team approach. Frequencies of responses were tallied, and queries were run in NVivo to identify exemplar quotes for each code.
RESULTS: Results indicated low familiarity with CM, with less than half of the respondents defining CM correctly and over 40% of respondents declining to answer/ did not know. Abstinence was the most commonly recommended CM target, yet over 70% of respondents indicated that urine screens only occurred monthly. Attendance was also a popular recommendation, with respondents suggesting a range of possible indices including counseling, dosing, and/or case management sessions. Regarding the ideal role to administer CM prizes, program directors and supervisors were most commonly recommended, closely followed by front-line counselors. The most commonly suggested strategies to afford CM incentives included soliciting community donations and offering non-financial incentives.
CONCLUSIONS: User design principles to understand workflow constraints, target user needs, and simplify the intervention guided this qualitative investigation of CM implementation in opioid treatment programs. Findings highlighted the potential value of flexible, organization-specific definitions of CM attendance and non-financial incentives, as well as active involvement of clinical leaders and supervisors to promote buy in among staff/patients. Respondents were generally optimistic about their ability to fundraise or solicit donations to overcome cost-related barriers of CM. Implications for CM implementation strategies, including the use of targeted leadership coaching focused on sustainability, are explored.