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Alcohol Abuse and Dependence in a National Sample of Psychiatric Patients

Dace S. Svikis, Deborah A. Zarin, Terri Tanielian, Harold Alan Pincus

Objective: To examine clinical characteristics and services being provided to Alcohol Abuse/Dependent (AAD) patients in current psychiatric practice. Method: In a national sample of psychiatrists (N = 417), each provided data on three preselected patients (N = 1,245; 51.8% women) that included demographics, DSM-IV diagnoses, treatment setting and health-plan measures. Logistic regression was used to compare patients with and without an AAD diagnosis. Results: Only 12% of patients (n= 151)hadan A AD diagnosis. AAD patient care was more frequently subject to utilization review and restriction or specification of medications to be prescribed (formulary). Psychiatrists also perceived greater restrictions on AAD patient care (e.g., requirements to use specific practice guidelines or treatment algorithms). Conclusions: Findings suggest that health care systems are subjecting treatment patients with AAD to greater scrutiny and may be limiting the extent and nature of care provided to these patients. The low prevalence of AAD among patients being seen by psychiatrists also warrants further attention. Study findings highlight the utility of practice-based research in addiction psychiatry. (J. Stud. Alcohol 61: 427-430, 2000)