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Improvements in Health-related Quality of Life among Methadone Maintenance Clients in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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    Injection of heroin has become widespread in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and is spreading throughout the country. To prevent potential bridging of HIV epidemics, the Tanzanian government established a methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clinic in February 2011. We assess the effect of MMT on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and examine factors, particularly HIV infection and methadone dose, associated with changes in HRQOL.


    This study utilized routine data on clients enrolling in methadone from February 2011 to April 2012 at Muhimbili National Hospital. Change in physical (PCS) and mental health (MCS) composite scores, as measured by the SF-12 tool, were the primary outcomes. Backward stepwise linear regression, with a criterion of p<0.2 was used to identify baseline exposure variables for inclusion in multivariable models, while adjusting for baseline scores.


    A total of 288 MMT clients received baseline and follow-up assessments. Mean methadone dose administered was 45 mg (SD±25) and 76(27%) were confirmed HIV-positive. Significant improvements were observed in PCS and MCS, with mean increases of 15.7 and 3.3, respectively. In multivariable models, clients who had previous poly-substance use with cocaine [p=0.040] had a significantly higher mean change in PCS. Clients who were living with HIV [p=0.002]; satisfied with current marital situation [p=0.045]; had a history of suicidal thoughts [p=0.021]; and previously experienced cognitive difficulties [p=0.012] had significantly lower mean change in PCS. Clients with shorter history of heroin use [p=0.012] and who received higher methadone doses [p=0.028] had significantly higher mean change in MCS, compared to their counterparts.


    Aspects of mental and physical health, risk behaviors and quality of life among drug users are intertwined and complex. Our research revealed positive short-term effects of MMT on HRQOL and highlights the importance of sustained retention for optimal benefits. Comprehensive supportive services in addition to provision of methadone are needed to address the complex health needs of people who inject drugs.

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    P30 AI036211/AI/NIAID NIH HHS/United States
    R34 DA037787/DA/NIDA NIH HHS/United States
    U2G PS000951/PS/NCHHSTP CDC HHS/United States
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