Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Luke Eric Lassiter

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Campbell

Third Advisor

Girmay Berhie


This qualitative study explores the lived experiences of six physicians in West Virginia who treat patients with opioid use disorder using Buprenorphine, often referred to as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is an empirically-supported method of treating people who suffer from the physiological symptoms of opioid addiction and its associated psychological, social, and behavioral components to ease withdrawal. West Virginia ranks first in the nation for opioid overdose deaths, with an estimated 60,000 people needing treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and approximately 280 physicians certified to provide MAT. Semi-structured individual interviews lasting one hour were the primary source of information for understanding the experiences of prescribing physicians in the state. Analysis of content from the interviews occurred using four conceptual frameworks i.e., phenomenology, applied research, pragmatism, and strengths perspective to identify major themes. The major themes identified in this study may be useful to medical school and social work program administrators and curriculum committee members tasked with developing content and experiential learning opportunities for students that reflect day to day realities of medical and behavioral health professionals who treat patients with OUD. Examples of specific implications for pedagogy and curriculum involve training medical students in the person-in-environment framework using a biopsychosocial assessment model to prepare physicians to inquire about and incorporate contextual factors that affect patients’ recovery into treatment regimen and training social work students to function as behavioral health consultants to physicians and members of the care team, as well as social reform and cultural change leaders.


Opioid abuse -- Treatment -- West Virginia.