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Mil Med. 2003 Sep;168(9):765-8.

A simple cost-benefit analysis of brief interventions on substance abuse at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.

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  • 1Addiction Medicine Services, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, VA 23703, USA.


To determine the impact of brief interventions on substance abuse at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, a retrospective review of all admissions in fiscal year 2001 was conducted. Patients receiving brief interventions had significantly lower readmission rates (12.6%) than those not receiving interventions (29.4%). For Internal Medicine patients, this difference was most pronounced: 15.4% as opposed to 40.0%. The average cost of a second admission was 17,834.31 dollars overall but 23,690.78 dollars for Internal Medicine specifically. The lower readmission rate associated with brief interventions represents a benefit of 606,366.54 dollars saved at a cost of 31,508.50 dollars for a cost-benefit ratio of 19:1. The data indicate a cost avoidance opportunity of 713,372.40 dollars if all identified substance abuse patients received interventions. Perhaps most significant, the gap between expected and identified substance use disorders (3.7% vs. 25%) suggests 3,400 unidentified persons who could benefit from interventions. This represents an additional cost avoidance opportunity of 10,200,000.00 dollars.

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