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J Addict Dis. 2006;25(1):105-20.

Addiction treatment history, medical services utilization, and cost: a longitudinal analysis of problem drinkers.

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  • 1Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, John Hopkins University, 624 N Broadway, Suite 833, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Few studies have examined the long-term patterns of health services utilization and cost for alcohol use disorders. This paper used data from baseline, 3-year, and 5-year follow-up interviews to compare utilization and cost of medical care services for problem drinkers who received chemical dependence treatment and those who did not. The analysis examined overnight hospital stays, emergency room visits, and medical office visits. The unadjusted analysis indicates that in the year immediately preceding each follow-up period, a significantly higher percentage of the chemical dependency treatment group stayed overnight at a hospital or used ER services. In terms of medical office visits, a significantly lower percentage of the treatment sample had office visits at the 5-year follow-up, but otherwise no significant differences existed. Most of the significant differences between the two groups vanished when we controlled for covariates. Researchers, policy makers, and clinicians could benefit from such information to develop alternative delivery models, formulate research initiatives, and determine areas for potential intervention and improvement.

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