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Length of Stay, Patient Severity and Treatment Outcome: Sample Data from the Field of Alcoholism

Edward Gottheil, A. Thomas McLellan, Keith A. Druley

Lengths of stay (LOS) have been markedly reduced since the institution of diagnosis-related groups (DRGs). To determine whether such reductions represent increased efficiency or undertreatment, however, requires that LOS be examined in relation to (1) severity of patient's impairment and (2) treatment outcome. Accordingly, a retrospective analysis was conducted using a data set in which initial severity assessments and 6-month outcome results were available for 126 male veterans treated for alcohol dependence. Greater improvement was found in patients with less severe impairment, and in such patients longer periods of treatment resulted in better outcomes than shorter periods of the same treatment. (J. Stud. Alcohol 53: 69-75, 1992)