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Black and Hispanic patients less likely to complete substance abuse treatment, Penn study shows
Date:1/7/2013

drug treatment for black patients and 8,000 fewer for Hispanic patients, compared to white patients. Other minority groups, including Native Americans, also showed lower completion rates than white patients. Only Asian American patients fared better than white patients for both drug and alcohol treatment completion.

According to the data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)'s 2007 Treatment Episode Data Set reasons for incomplete treatment included leaving against professional advice, incarceration, or having treatment terminated by the facility because of noncompliance. Saloner says socioeconomic barriers could operate in several ways to hinder treatment completion.

"Patients living in poverty may be more likely to receive treatment in an environment with high social distress, weak social support, or few economic opportunities," he said, adding that these external factors could undermine individual engagement with treatment or create competing demands, leading to higher dropout rates from treatment. "Unfortunately, it's possible that funding for treatment programs may be limited in the future as states and the federal government look for ways to trim spending on public programs. However, in the long run, these reductions in spending on treatment programs may lead to increased spending for corrections and emergency department admissions."

The researchers suggest that steps to broaden Medicaid funding in the Affordable Care Act could dramatically improve access. To be particularly effective, the policies should focus on points in the treatment process where vulnerable groups particularly minorities are likely to drop out of treatment. Broadened access to supported housing and vocational training could be two cost-effective ways of improving overall substance-addiction treatment results and reducing treatment outcome disparities, in addition to addressing significant public policy problems.


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Contact: Katie Delach
katie.delach@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5964
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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