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Addiction. 1996 Jan;91(1):39-45.

Health status at entry to methadone maintenance treatment using the SF-36 health survey questionnaire.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, University of Adelaide, Australia.


This study used the SF-36 general health questionnaire to measure the health status of heroin users at entry to a public methadone maintenance programme. Their results were compared to those from the general population and from three clinical groups: patients with minor medical, major medical and psychiatric problems. One hundred consecutive clients were interviewed in the first week on the programme using the SF-36 health questionnaire. Data were also gathered on their drug use, use of medical services and HIV risk behaviour. The results showed that heroin users at entry to the methadone maintenance programme had significantly worse physical and psychological health than the general population. Their scores were most similar to the psychiatrically depressed patients, although they had worse physical health than this comparison group. The greater the amount of heroin used by clients before entering the programme, the more pain they reported. Alcohol and marijuana use were associated with better social and physical health. The relationship between general health status and amount or frequency of drug use is not a clear one. Heroin users experience severe emotional and physical problems at the time of entering methadone maintenance treatment.

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