What Is the Geographic Distribution of the Workforce with a DEA Waiver to Prescribe Buprenorphine?

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2019
Project completed:
April 2021

Access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD) continues to be a challenge for many people, especially in rural locations. Many rural communities are planning strategies to expand access to MAT, and accurate information about the workforce with a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) waiver is crucial.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants have recently become eligible for waivers, offering significant potential for expansion of the treatment workforce. This project described the supply and geographic distribution of the health workforce with a DEA waiver to prescribe buprenorphine to treat patients with OUD as well as examined trends over time. Using the current (2019) DEA list of waivered providers, we identified and mapped provider locations and waiver capacity. We also produced statistics on urban (metropolitan) vs. rural (nonmetropolitan) availability of providers, including sub-rural comparisons between micropolitan and non-core counties, using Urban Influence Codes. We compared findings to previous research and highlighted changes and trends in this workforce from 2012-2019.