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Mobile telephone delivered contingency management for encouraging adherence to supervised methadone consumption: feasibility study for an RCT of clinical and cost effectiveness (TIES)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Accepted/In press14 Dec 2020
Published7 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: JStr and KG are supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. JStr is an NIHR Senior Investigator. For a fuller account, see JStr’s web-page at Funding Information: NM, through her employer (King’s College London), has received a grant from a pharmaceutical company MundiPharma Research Ltd. Funding Information: JStr and SP have contributed to UK guidelines on the potential role of contingency management in the management of opioid addiction (NICE, 2007; convened by SP, chaired by JStr). SP receives funding from NICE for the production of clinical guidelines. JS has chaired the broader-scope pan-UK working group preparing the 2017 and 2007 Orange Guidelines for the UK Departments of Health and Social Care, providing guidance on management and treatment of drug dependence and misuse, including guidance on possible inclusion of contingency management. JSc was a member of this group. Funding Information: This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit Programme (grant reference number PB-PG-0815-20053). This paper represents independent research part funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care. Funding Information: We would like to thank all the patients, drug service staff, and pharmacists who kindly agreed to participate in our study. We would also like to thank the telephone system development team (Kumar Jacob, Elle Long, and Hannah Ridsdale) at Mindwaves Ventures Ltd. We also gratefully acknowledge the support and guidance of members of our Service User Advisory Group, Trial Steering Committee (Soraya Mayet [Chair], Graham Parsons, and Angela Meade), and our Data Management and Ethics Committee (Louise Sell [Chair], Deborah Zador, and Zoe Hoare). Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s). Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


King's Authors


Background: Prescription methadone or buprenorphine enables people with opioid use disorder to stop heroin use safely while avoiding withdrawal. To ensure methadone is taken as prescribed and to prevent diversion onto the illicit market, people starting methadone take their daily dose under a pharmacist’s supervision. Many patients miss their daily methadone dose risking withdrawal, craving for heroin and overdose due to loss of heroin tolerance. Contingency management (CM) can improve medication adherence, but remote delivery using technology may be resource-light and cost-effective. We developed an innovative way to deliver CM by mobile telephone. Software monitors patients’ attendance and supervised methadone consumption through an internet self-login at the pharmacy and sends reinforcing text messages to patients’ mobile telephones. A linked system sends medication adherence reports to prescribers and provides early warning alerts of missed doses. A pre-paid debit card system provides financial incentives. Methods: A cluster randomised controlled trial design was used to test the feasibility of conducting a future trial of mobile telephone CM to encourage adherence to supervised methadone in community pharmacies. Each cluster (drug service/3 allied pharmacies) was randomly allocated to provide patient’s presenting for a new episode of opiate agonist treatment (OAT) with either (a) mobile telephone text message CM, (b) mobile telephone text message reminders, or (c) no text messages. We assessed acceptability of the interventions, recruitment, and follow-up procedures. Results: Four drug clinics were approached and three recruited. Thirty-three pharmacists were approached and 9 recruited. Over 3 months, 173 individuals were screened and 10 enrolled. Few patients presented for OAT and high numbers were excluded due to receiving buprenorphine or not attending participating pharmacies. There was 96% consistency in recording medication adherence by self-login vs. pharmacy records. In focus groups, CM participants were positive about using self-login, the text messages, and debit card. Prescribers found weekly reporting, time saving, and allowed closer monitoring of patients. Pharmacists reported that the tablet device was easy to host. Conclusion: Mobile telephone CM worked well, but a planned future trial will use modified eligibility criteria (existing OAT patients who regularly miss their methadone/buprenorphine doses) and increase the number of participating pharmacies. Trial registration: The trial is retrospectively registered, ISRCTN 58958179.

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