Correctional populations both globally and in Canada experience elevated rates of substance use, including opioid use disorder (OUD), and correspondingly face increased risks of relapse, overdose, and mortality, particularly during the post-incarceration community transitional period. As the gold-standard treatment for OUD, opioid agonist treatment (OAT) has been associated with multiple beneficial outcomes among correctional populations, including lower rates of illicit opioid use, overdoses, mortality, recidivism, and re-incarceration, as well as increased health care and addiction treatment engagement. While these benefits are known, and OAT has increasingly been provided in correctional settings, experiences with OAT engagement, including potential barriers and facilitators to access - both during and post-incarceration - are understudied.
In addition to the four correctional projects that OCRINT is currently coordinating (see Implementation Science Program - including the Quebec-based iteration of this Ontario project), the Ontario CRISM node research team collaborated with Correctional Service Canada to fill this knowledge gap by undertaking a longitudinal mixed-methods follow-up study examining OAT engagement among n=45 federal correctional inmates located across Ontario at two separate time points (1: during incarceration, within 6 months pre-release [baseline]; and 2) post-incarceration, within one year since release [follow-up]). Data collection took place at Ontario federal correctional institutions and confidential community field settings between January 2019 - March 2020. Assessments included a brief quantitative survey (combined with select administrative correctional data) and a one-on-one qualitative interview. Key project deliverables include both a baseline and follow-up final report submitted to Correctional Service Canada (currently under review), as well as academic publications (pending).