Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

Kathryn F. Hawk

Second Advisor

Abujarad Fuad


Clinical pharmacists are well positioned to enhance efforts to promote Emergency Department (ED)-initiated buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). Among clinical pharmacists in urban EDs, we sought to characterize barriers and facilitators for ED-initiated buprenorphine to inform future implementation efforts and enhance access to this highly effective OUD treatment.

This study was conducted as a part of Project ED Health (CTN-0069, NCT03023930), a multisite effectiveness-implementation study aimed at promoting ED-initiated buprenorphine that was conducted between April 2017 and July 2020. Data collection and analysis were grounded in the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) framework to assess perspectives on the relationship between 3 elements: evidence for buprenorphine initiation, the ED context, and facilitation needs to promote ED-initiated buprenorphine. Using content analysis, an iterative coding process was used to identify overlapping themes within these 3 domains.

Eight focus groups/interviews were conducted across four geographically disparate EDs with 15 pharmacist participants. Six themes were identified. Themes related to evidence included (1) varied levels of comfort and experience among pharmacists with ED-initiated buprenorphine that increased over time and (2) a perception that patients with OUD have unique challenges that require guidance to optimize ED care. Regarding the context, clinical pharmacists identified: (3) their ability to clarify scope of ED care in the context of unique pharmacology, formulations, and regulations of buprenorphine to ED staff, and that (4) their presence promotes successful program implementation and quality improvement. Participants identified facilitation needs including: (5) training to promote practice change and (6) ways to leverage already existing pharmacy resources outside of the ED.

Clinical pharmacists play a unique and critical role in the efforts to promote ED-initiated buprenorphine. We identified 6 themes that can inform pharmacist-specific interventions that could aid in the successful implementation of this practice.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access