Engaging the great circle: a qualitative study of the confederated tribes of grand Ronde’s mobile medication unit

Kim A. Hoffman, Chantell Graves, Kelly Rowe, Jennifer Worth, Kellie Pertl, James Laidler, P.  Todd Korthuis, Dennis McCarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon began a Mobile Medication Unit (MMU) as part of their Great Circle Recovery Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) to address elevated rates of opioid use disorder (OUD) among American Indians and Alaska Natives in Oregon. The MMU provides methadone or buprenorphine for individuals with OUD, enrolled in the OTP, who are living either on the reservation or in surrounding rural communities. An implementation study describes the service through document review and qualitatively assesses patient and staff experiences and the perceived barriers and facilitators to mobile services. Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with patients (n = 11), MMU staff (n = 5), and the state opioid treatment authority (n = 1) gathered details on the initiative’s development and operations. Provider interviews probed implementation experiences. Patient interviews focused on their experiences with the MMU and staff, changes in quality of life and recommendations for enhancing treatment. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using a Thematic Analysis approach. Results: Staff themes identified two driving forces (i.e. staff desire for an inclusive approach to wellness that is accessible to all community members; the catalysts for the MMU), two steps toward MMU development (i.e. Tribal approvals and support; the construction and maintenance of community relationships) and two perspectives on MMU implementation and impact (i.e. initial implementation barriers; facilitators and observations of how the MMU reduced stigma associated with agonist therapy). Patients’ themes noted the MMU’s professional and ‘caring’ environment, accessible rural locations and general suggestions including culturally responsive ancillary services. Conclusion: The Great Circle MMU enhanced access to opioid agonist therapy for people with OUD (i.e. American Indians/Alaska Natives, and non-natives) living in rural communities. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde operates the first Tribally owned OTP MMU, grounded in cultural humility and committed to Tribal members and the great circle of the larger community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2306492
JournalAnnals of Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • AI/AN
  • Methadone
  • mobile MOUD
  • opioid treatment program
  • rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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