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Rates and Predictors of Four-Year Readmission among Late-Middle-Aged and Older Substance Abuse Patients:

Rudolf H. Moos, Jennifer R. Mertens, Penny L. Brennan

This naturalistic study examines treatment, diagnoses and readmission among late-middle-aged and older (age 55+) substance abuse inpatients (N = 16,066) in Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. Over an interval extending from 4 years before to 4 years after an index episode of care, older substance abuse patients used substantial amounts of inpatient and outpatient treatment. Service use was heaviest among patients with a concomitant psychiatric disorder, and there was no evidence that it declined over time in the overall group. Four-year readmission rates in three diagnostic subgroups (alcohol or drug dependence diagnosis only, alcohol or drug psychoses, substance dependence and/or psychoses with one or more psychiatric diagnoses) were very high (57% to 70%); however, they were somewhat lower among patients with less chronic substance abuse problems. Readmission and multiple readmission were predicted by younger age, unmarried status, more prior service use, alcohol psychosis or psychiatric diagnoses, treatment in a psychiatric unit, and shorter hospital stay. These factors may be used at admission and discharge to identify patients at risk for rehospitalization; inpatient treatment and aftercare can be planned accordingly. (J. Stud. Alcohol 55: 561-570, 1994)