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Continuing care and long-term substance use outcomes in managed care: early evidence for a primary care-based model

OBJECTIVES: How best to provide ongoing services to patients with substance use disorders to sustain long-term recovery is a significant clinical and policy question that has not been adequately addressed. Analyzing nine years of prospective data for 991 adults who entered substance abuse treatment in a private, nonprofit managed care health plan, this study aimed to examine the components of a continuing care model (primary care, specialty substance abuse treatment, and psychiatric services) and their combined effect on outcomes over nine years after treatment entry. METHODS: In a longitudinal observational study, follow-up measures included self-reported alcohol and drug use, Addiction Severity Index scores, and service utilization data extracted from the health plan databases. Remission, defined as abstinence or nonproblematic use, was the outcome measure. RESULTS: A mixed-effects logistic random intercept model controlling for time and other covariates found that yearly primary care, and specialty care based on need as measured at the prior time point, were positively associated with remission over time. Persons receiving continuing care (defined as having yearly primary care and specialty substance abuse treatment and psychiatric services when needed) had twice the odds of achieving remission at follow-ups (p<.001) as those without. CONCLUSIONS: Continuing care that included both primary care and specialty care management to support ongoing monitoring, self-care, and treatment as needed was important for long-term recovery of patients with substance use disorders.

Authors: Chi FW; Parthasarathy S; Mertens JR; Weisner CM

Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Oct;62(10):1194-200.

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