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Readmission among Chemical Dependency Patients in Private, Outpatient Treatment: Patterns, Correlates and Role in Long-Term Outcome

Jennifer R. Mertens, Constance M. Weisner, G. Thomas Ray

Objective: Similar to other chronic conditions, chemical dependency is a chronic, relapsing condition. Yet predominant treatment models do not provide ongoing, long-term treatment services; readmission is the available long-term care for alcohol and drug patients. We examine readmission patterns and the role of readmission in 5-year outcome in chemical dependency patients in a private, integrated health plan. Method: We used health plan utilization databases and self-report at 5-year follow-up to measure readmission and routine primary care services in 647 chemical dependency outpatients from a private health plan. Logistic regression was used to examine whether readmission and primary medical care predicted abstinence at 5 years. Results: Controlling for demographic characteristics and dependence type, higher odds for past-year alcohol and drug abstinence at 5 years following treatment was predicted by having been readmitted in the first 4 years after index episode (odds ratio =1.59, p = .006). Receiving routine medical care predicted past 30-day (but not past-year) abstinence at 5-year follow-up. Conclusions: The relationship of readmissions to better outcome at 5 years suggests that long-term continuing care may benefit patientsí long-term outcomes. More research is needed on the relationship of primary medical care to long-term outcome in chemical dependency patients. (J. Stud Alcohol 66: 842-847, 2005)