Evaluating how has care been affected by the Ontario COVID-19 Opioid Agonist Treatment Guidance: Patients’ and prescribers’ experiences with changes in unsupervised dosing


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the opioid crisis. Opioid-related deaths have increased and access to treatment services, including opioid agonist treatment (OAT), has been disrupted. The Ontario COVID-19 OAT Treatment Guidance document was developed to facilitate access to OAT and continuity of care during the pandemic, while supporting physical distancing measures. In particular, the Guidance expanded access to unsupervised OAT dosing. It is important to evaluate the changes in unsupervised OAT dosing after the release of the Ontario COVID-19 OAT Guidance based on patients’ and prescribers’ reports.


Online questionnaires were developed collaboratively with people with lived and living expertise, prescribers, clinical experts, and researchers. Patients (N = 402) and prescribers (N = 100) reported their experiences with changes in unsupervised dosing during the first six months of the pandemic.


Many patients (57%) reported receiving additional unsupervised OAT doses (i.e., take away doses). Patients who received additional unsupervised doses were not significantly more likely to report adverse health outcomes compared to patients who did not receive additional unsupervised doses. Patients with additional unsupervised doses and prescribers agreed that changes in OAT care were positive (e.g., reported an improved patient-prescriber relationship and more openness between patient and prescriber). Prescribers and some patients reported the need for continued flexibility in unsupervised doses after the pandemic restrictions lift.

Other Areas of Research: Opioids

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Amy Porath

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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