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1.  Challenges and Opportunities for Integrating Preventive Substance-Use-Care Services in Primary Care through the Affordable Care Act 
Undertreated or untreated substance use disorders (SUD) remain a pervasive, medically-harmful public health problem in the United States, particularly in medically underserved and low-income populations lacking access to appropriate treatment. The need for greater access to SUD treatment was expressed as policy in the Final Rule on standards related to essential health benefits, required to be covered through the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchanges. SUD treatment services have been included as an essential health benefit, in a manner that complies with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008. Consequently, with the ACA, a vast expansion of SUD-care services in primary care is looming. This commentary discusses challenges and opportunities under the ACA for equipping health care professionals with appropriate workforce training, infrastructure, and resources to support and guide science-based Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for SUD in primary care.
doi:10.1353/hpu.2014.0067
PMCID: PMC3984935  PMID: 24583486
Substance use disorders; Affordable Care Act; addiction treatment; drug abuse treatment; primary care; medical settings; electronic health record; health information technology; prevention; medical home; implementation science; health care reform; health services research; patient-centered medical home; electronic medical record
2.  Behavioral Health Insurance Parity: Does Oregon’s Experience Presage the National Experience with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act? 
Objective
The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act prohibits commercial group health plans from imposing spending and visit limitations for mental health and substance abuse services that are not imposed on medical-surgical benefits. Controversially, the Act also restricts the use of managed care tools that apply to the behavioral health benefit in ways that differ from their application to the medical-surgical benefit. The only precedent for this approach is Oregon’s state parity law, implemented in 2007. The goal of this study is to estimate the effect of Oregon’s parity law on expenditures for mental health and substance abuse treatment services.
Methods
We compared expenditures for individuals in four Oregon commercial plans from 2005 through 2008 to a matched group of commercially insured individuals in Oregon who were exempt from parity. Using a difference-in-differences analysis, we analyzed the effect of comprehensive parity on spending for mental health and substance abuse services.
Results
Increases in spending on mental health and substance abuse services following Oregon’s parity law were due almost entirely to a general trend observed among individuals with and without parity. Expenditures per enrollee for mental health and substance abuse services attributable to parity were positive but did not differ significantly from zero in any of the four plans (range: +$12.15 to +$25.49, p>0.05 for each comparison).
Conclusion
Behavioral health insurance parity that places restrictions on how plans manage mental health and substance abuse services can improve insurance protections without substantial increases in total costs.
doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.11020320
PMCID: PMC3263406  PMID: 21890792
3.  How would mental health parity affect the marginal price of care? 
Health Services Research  2001;35(6):1207-1227.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of parity in mental health benefits on the marginal prices that consumers face for mental health treatment. DATA SOURCES/DATA COLLECTION: We used detailed information on health plan benefits for a nationally representative sample of the privately insured population under age 65 taken from the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey (Edwards and Berlin 1989). The survey was carefully aged and reweighted to represent 1995 population and coverage characteristics. STUDY DESIGN: We computed marginal out-of-pocket costs from the cost-sharing benefits described by policy booklets under current coverage and under parity for various mental health treatment expenditure levels using the MEDSIM health care microsimulation model developed by researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Descriptive analyses and two-limit Tobit regression models are used to examine how insurance generosity varies across individuals by demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Our analyses are limited to a description of how parity would change the marginal incentives faced by consumers under their existing plan's cost-sharing arrangements for mental and physical health care. We do not attempt to simulate how parity might affect the level of benefits, including whether benefits are offered at all, or the level of managed care that affects the actual benefits that plan members receive. Rather, we focus only on the nominal benefits described in their policy booklets. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Our results show that as of 1995 parity coverage would substantially reduce the share of mental health expenditures that consumers would pay at the margin under their existing plan's cost-sharing provisions, with larger changes for outpatient care than for inpatient care. Because current mental health coverage generally becomes less generous as expenditures rise, while coverage for other medical care becomes more generous (due to stop-loss provisions), the difference in incentives between current mental health coverage and the assumed parity coverage widens as total expenditure grows. We also find that the impact of parity on marginal incentives would vary greatly across the privately insured population. CONCLUSIONS: Based on the large variation in the impact of parity on marginal incentives across the population under current plan cost-sharing arrangements, changes in the demand for mental health treatment will likely also vary across the population.
PMCID: PMC1089187  PMID: 11221816
4.  What Oregon's Parity Law Can Tell Us about the Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and Spending on Substance Abuse Treatment Servicesb 
Drug and Alcohol Dependence  2012;124(3):340-346.
Background
The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) requires commercial group health plans offering coverage for mental health and substance abuse services to offer those services at a level that is no more restrictive than for medical-surgical services. The MHPAEA is notable in restricting the extent to which health plans can use managed care tools on the behavioral health benefit. The only precedent for this approach is Oregon's 2007 state parity law. This study aims to provide evidence on the effect of comprehensive parity on utilization and expenditures for substance abuse treatment services.
Methods
A difference-in-difference analysis compared individuals in five Oregon commercial plans (n=103,820) from 2005–2008 to comparison groups exempt from parity in Oregon (n=19,633) and Washington (n=39,447). The primary outcome measures were annual use and total expenditures.
Results
Spending for alcohol treatment services demonstrated statistically significant increase in comparison to the Oregon and Washington comparison groups. Spending on other drug abuse treatment services was not associated with statistically significant spending increases, and the effect of parity on overall spending (alcohol plus other drug abuse treatment services) was positive but not statistically significant from zero.
Conclusions
Oregon's experience suggests that behavioral health insurance parity that places restrictions on how plans manage the benefit may lead to increases in expenditures for alcohol treatment services but is unlikely to lead to increases in spending for other drug abuse treatment services.
doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.02.006
PMCID: PMC3380182  PMID: 22382046
Parity; Health Economics; Health Policy; Alcohol Treatment; Substance Abuse Treatment; Managed Care
5.  A Political History of Federal Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Parity 
The Milbank quarterly  2010;88(3):404-433.
Context
This article chronicles the political history of efforts by the U.S. Congress to enact a law requiring “parity” for mental health and addiction benefits and medical/surgical benefits in private health insurance. The goal of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity (MHPAE) Act of 2008 is to eliminate differences in insurance coverage for behavioral health. Mental health and addiction treatment advocates have long viewed parity as a means of increasing fairness in the insurance market, whereas employers and insurers have opposed it because of concerns about its cost. The passage of this law is viewed as a legislative success by both consumer and provider advocates and the employer and insurance groups that fought against it for decades.
Methods
Twenty-nine structured interviews were conducted with key informants in the federal parity debate, including members of Congress and their staff; lobbyists for consumer, provider, employer, and insurance groups; and other key contacts. Historical documentation, academic research on the effects of parity regulations, and public comment letters submitted to the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury before the release of federal guidance also were examined.
Findings
Three factors were instrumental to the passage of this law: the emergence of new evidence regarding the costs of parity, personal experience with mental illness and addiction, and the political strategies adopted by congressional champions in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Conclusions
Challenges to implementing the federal parity policy warrant further consideration. This law raises new questions about the future direction of federal policymaking on behavioral health.
doi:10.1111/j.1468-0009.2010.00605.x
PMCID: PMC2950754  PMID: 20860577
parity; insurance; mental health; substance abuse
6.  Do State Parity Laws Reduce the Financial Burden on Families of Children with Mental Health Care Needs? 
Health Services Research  2007;42(3 Pt 1):1061-1084.
Objective
To study the financial impact of state parity laws on families of children in need of mental health services.
Data Source
Privately insured families in the 2000 State and Local Area Integrated Telephone Survey National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) (N=38,856).
Study Design
We examine whether state parity laws reduce the financial burden on families of children with mental health conditions. We use instrumental variable estimation controlling for detailed information on a child's health and functional impairment. We compare those in parity and nonparity states and those needing mental health care with other CSHCN.
Principle Findings
Multivariate regression results indicate that living in a parity state significantly reduced the financial burden on families of children with mental health care needs. Specifically, the likelihood of a child's annual out-of-pocket (OOP) health care spending exceeding $1,000 was significantly lower among families of children needing mental health care living in parity states compared with those in nonparity states. Families with children needing mental health care in parity states were also more likely to view OOP spending as reasonable compared with those in nonparity states. Likewise, living in a parity state significantly lowered the likelihood of a family reporting that a child's health needs caused financial problems. The likelihood of reports that additional income was needed to finance a child's care was also lower among families with mentally ill children living in parity states. However, we detect no significant difference among residents of parity and nonparity states in receipt of needed mental health care.
Conclusion
These results indicate that state parity laws are providing important economic benefits to families of mentally ill children undetected in prior research.
doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00650.x
PMCID: PMC1955255  PMID: 17489904
Parity; mental health; CSHCN; economic burden
7.  The Effects of State Mental Health Parity Legislation on Perceived Quality of Insurance Coverage, Perceived Access to Care, and Use of Mental Health Specialty Care 
Health Services Research  2004;39(5):1361-1378.
Objective
To assess the impacts of recent state mental health parity legislation on perceived quality of health insurance coverage, perceived access to needed health care, and use of mental health specialty services by individuals with likely need for mental health care.
Data Sources
The study sample came from two waves of a national household survey first fielded in 1997–1998 and then in 2000–2001. The analysis used a subset of the sample.
Study Design
The study took the Difference-in-Difference-in-Difference approach to investigate changes in self-perceived quality of health insurance coverage and access to needed health care, and use of mental health specialty care by the group with mental disorders (relative to those without) in states with parity legislation of different comprehensiveness (relative to the nonparity states) in the years after the law (relative to before the law).
Principal Findings
Overall, there were no significant or consistent effects of the parity legislation. Descriptive statistics showed significant changes in some (but not all) outcome variables, but these results disappeared in detailed statistical analyses by controlling for important covariates.
Conclusions
The null findings of the effects of state mental health parity mandates suggest that under ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act), the scope of state parity legislation may have been restricted because of large proportion of self-insured employers. Furthermore, comprehensiveness of state legislation appears to be related to the traditional level of use of mental health specialty care, which becomes another confounder for the potential policy effects.
doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2004.00294.x
PMCID: PMC1361074  PMID: 15333113
Mental health parity legislation; health care access; insurance coverage; mental health specialty care
8.  Parity and Out-of-Pocket Spending for Children With High Mental Health or Substance Abuse Expenditures 
Pediatrics  2013;131(3):e903-e911.
OBJECTIVE:
The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act required health plans to provide mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits on par with medical benefits beginning in 2010. Previous research found that parity significantly lowered average out-of-pocket (OOP) spending on MH/SUD treatment of children. No evidence is available on how parity affects OOP spending by families of children with the highest MH/SUD treatment expenditures.
METHODS:
We used a difference-in-differences study design to examine whether parity reduced families’ (1) share of total MH/SUD treatment expenditures paid OOP or (2) average OOP spending among children whose total MH/SUD expenditures met or exceeded the 90th percentile. By using claims data, we compared changes 2 years before (1999–2000) and 2 years after (2001–2002) the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program implemented parity to a contemporaneous group of health plans that did not implement parity over the same 4-year period. We examined those enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program because their parity directive is similar to and served as a model for the new federal parity law.
RESULTS:
Parity led to statistically significant annual declines in the share of total MH/SUD treatment expenditures paid OOP (−5%, 95% confidence interval: −6% to −4%) and average OOP spending on MH/SUD treatment (−$178, 95% confidence interval: −257 to −97).
CONCLUSIONS:
This study provides the first empirical evidence that parity reduces the share and level of OOP spending by families of children with the highest MH/SUD treatment expenditures; however, these spending reductions were smaller than anticipated and unlikely to meaningfully improve families’ financial protection.
doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1491
PMCID: PMC3581843  PMID: 23420919
mental health; substance use disorder; parity; insurance
9.  The Effect of Comprehensive Behavioral Health Parity on Choice of Provider 
Medical Care  2012;50(6):527-533.
Background
“Parity” laws remove treatment limitations for mental health and substance-abuse services covered by commercial health plans. A number of studies of parity implementations have suggested that parity does not lead to large increases in utilization or expenditures for behavioral health services. However, less is known about how parity might affect changes in patients' choice of providers for behavioral health treatment.
Research Design
We compared initiation and provider choice among 46,470 Oregonians who were affected by Oregon's 2007 parity law. Oregon is the only state to have enacted a parity law that places restrictions on how plans manage behavioral health services. This approach has been adopted federally in the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). In one set of analyses, we assess initiation and provider choice using a difference-in-difference approach, with a matched group of commercially insured Oregonians who were exempt from parity. In a second set of analyses, we assess the impact of distance on provider choice.
Results
Overall, parity in Oregon was associated with a slight increase (0.5% to 0.8%) in initiations with masters-level specialists, and relatively little change for generalist physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists. Patients are particularly sensitive to distance for nonphysician specialists.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that the MHPAEA may lead to a shift in the use of nonphysician specialists and away from generalist physicians. The extent to which these changes occur is likely to be contingent on the ease and accessibility of nonphysician specialists.
doi:10.1097/MLR.0b013e318245a60f
PMCID: PMC3353151  PMID: 22584888
10.  Impact of Full Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity for Children in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program 
Pediatrics  2007;119(2):e452-e459.
OBJECTIVE
The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program implemented full mental health and substance abuse parity in January 2001. Evaluation of this policy revealed that parity increased adult beneficiaries’ financial protection by lowering mental health and substance abuse out-of-pocket costs for service users in most plans studied but did not increase rates of service use or spending among adult service users. This study examined the effects of full mental health and substance abuse parity for children.
METHODS
Employing a quasiexperimental design, we compared children in 7 Federal Employees Health Benefits plans from 1999 to 2002 with children in a matched set of plans that did not have a comparable change in mental health and substance abuse coverage. Using a difference-in-differences analysis, we examined the likelihood of child mental health and substance abuse service use, total spending among child service users, and out-of-pocket spending.
RESULTS
The apparent increase in the rate of children’s mental health and substance abuse service use after implementation of parity was almost entirely due to secular trends of increased service utilization. Estimates for children’s mental health and substance abuse spending conditional on this service use showed significant decreases in spending per user attributable to parity for 2 plans; spending estimates for the other plans were not statistically significant. Children using these services in 3 of 7 plans experienced statistically significant reductions in out-of-pocket spending attributable to the parity policy, and the average dollar savings was sizeable for users in those 3 plans. In the remaining 4 plans, out-of-pocket spending also decreased, but these decreases were not statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS
Full mental health and substance abuse parity for children, within the context of managed care, can achieve equivalence of benefits in health insurance coverage and improve financial protection without adversely affecting health care costs but may not expand access for children who need these services.
doi:10.1542/peds.2006-0673
PMCID: PMC1995034  PMID: 17272607
health care costs; health insurance; mental health; substance abuse/use; managed care
11.  Institutions, Politics, and Mental Health Parity 
Society and mental health  2012;2(3):10.1177/2156869312455436.
Mental health parity laws require insurers to extend comparable benefits for mental and physical health care. Proponents argue that by placing mental health services alongside physical health services, such laws can help ensure needed treatment and destigmatize mental illness. Opponents counter that such mandates are costly or unnecessary. The authors offer a sociological account of the diffusion and spatial distribution of state mental health parity laws. An event history analysis identifies four factors as especially important: diffusion of law, political ideology, the stability of mental health advocacy organizations and the relative health of state economies. Mental health parity is least likely to be established during times of high state unemployment and under the leadership of conservative state legislatures.
doi:10.1177/2156869312455436
PMCID: PMC3864046  PMID: 24353902
mental health; mental health policy; mental health services
12.  Mental health parity legislation: much ado about nothing? 
Health Services Research  2000;35(1 Pt 2):263-275.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether state-level parity legislation has led to an increase in utilization of mental health services. DATA SOURCES: Healthcare For Communities (HCC), a multi-site nationally representative study sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that tracks health care system changes for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Information on state-level parity legislation was provided by state offices of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI); local and state market data come from the Area Resource File; information on other health mandates from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. STUDY DESIGN: Two-stage regressions are used to estimate the effect of state parity legislation on use of any mental health services, use of specialty mental health services, and number of specialty visits in the past year. In the first stage, we predicted the probability that a state decides to pass parity legislation as a function of state health care market indicators and previous legislative activity. The fitted probability is used in the second stage to determine the effect of this legislation on access and utilization. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: State parity legislation is not associated with a significant increase in any of our measures of mental health services utilization. These results are robust to various specifications of the models. CONCLUSIONS: Those states that are able to pass parity legislation do not experience significant increases in the utilization of mental health services. This may be due in part to a loss of coverage for those people most at risk for mental health disorders. The results could be very different, however, if strong federal legislation were passed.
PMCID: PMC1089100  PMID: 10778814
13.  Navigating the mental health and addictions maze: a community-based pilot project of a new role in primary mental health care 
Problem being addressed In a medically under-served rural Canadian community where overburdened family physicians provide most of the cae for patients with mental illness and substance use problems, providing access to timely and effective help for all citizens is a challenge. The care burden of unmet mental health needs is experienced throughout the larger community by diverse community service providers.
Supporting a shared understanding of the needs and challenges, and ensuring effective connection and clear communication between diverse disciplines in primary care, community services and the formal mental health system requires models of service organisation and delivery that go beyond traditional clinical roles.
In cancer care a navigator model has previously been used to address information and service gaps and improve patient experience. We wished to evaluate whether a community-supported navigator model could help solve some of the challenges for clients and service providers in our community, while at the same time allowing data collection that offers a clearer understanding of actual service needs.
Pre-programme activities Community members formed an interdisciplinary community steering committee which met monthly for two years to develop and adapt a service and collaborative research model, generate support, secure ethical approval and raise funds.
Programme description The navigator service was embedded in a local family service organisation, the steering committee met monthly, and along with the researchers met regularly with programme staff and provided support, oversight and development of ethical data collection.
Navigators provided low barrier access, comprehensive assessment, collaborative service planning, and linkage and referral facilitation for any individual or family who requested assistance with a mental health or substance use concern. Navigators also serve as an information resource for any community service provider or family physician needing to assist a client, and collected data on local service needs.
Conclusions Analysis of quantitative administrative data, consented research data, and qualitative interview and survey data demonstrated that this community supported navigator service model was effective in improving service access, assessment and linkage for citizens with mental health and addictions concerns, and connecting a range of community services into a more effective network of care. Connecting unattached clients with a primary care provider and supporting needs assessment and service planning for patients of local family physicians were key navigator functions.
PMCID: PMC2777588  PMID: 22477883
community based participator research; mental health navigation; navigator model; primary mental health care
14.  Characteristics of Adults With Substance Use Disorders Expected to Be Eligible for Medicaid Under the ACA 
Objectives
Provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are likely to expand access to substance use disorder treatment for low-income individuals. The aim of the study was to provide information on the need for substance use disorder treatment among individuals who may be eligible for Medicaid under the ACA.
Methods
The 2008 and 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health provided data on demographic characteristics, health status, and substance use disorders for comparison of current low-income Medicaid enrollees (N=3,809) with currently uninsured individuals with household incomes that may qualify them for Medicaid coverage beginning in 2014 (N=5,049). The incomes of the groups compared were 138% of the federal poverty level (133% provided in the ACA plus a 5% income “disregard” allowed by the law).
Results
The rate of substance use disorders among currently uninsured income-eligible individuals was slightly higher than the rate among current Medicaid enrollees (14.6% versus 11.5%, p=.03). Although both groups had significant unmet need for substance use disorder treatment, the treatment rate among those who needed treatment was significantly lower in the income-eligible group than in the currently enrolled group (31.3% versus 46.8%, p<.01). When the analysis excluded informal care received outside the medical sector, treatment rates among those with treatment needs were much lower in both groups (12.8% in the income-eligible group and 30.7% among current enrollees).
Conclusions
Findings suggest that Medicaid insurance expansions under the ACA will reduce unmet need for substance use disorder treatment.
doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201200011
PMCID: PMC3672321  PMID: 23450343
15.  Collaborative Care for Depression in Primary Care: How Psychiatry Could “Troubleshoot” Current Treatments and Practices 
The bulk of mental health services for people with depression are provided in primary care settings. Primary care providers prescribe 79 percent of antidepressant medications and see 60 percent of people being treated for depression in the United States, and they do that with little support from specialist services. Depression is not effectively managed in the primary care setting. Collaborative care based on a team approach, a population health perspective, and measurement-based care has been proven to treat depression more effectively than care as usual in a variety of settings and for different populations, and it increases people’s access to medications and behavioral therapies. Psychiatry has the responsibility of supporting the primary care sector in delivering mental health services by disseminating collaborative care approaches under recent initiatives and opportunities made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
PMCID: PMC3670434  PMID: 23766735
antidepressants; primary care; collaborative care
16.  Alcohol Sales and Risk of Serious Assault 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(5):e104.
Background
Alcohol is a contributing cause of unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes. Prior research on the association between alcohol use and violent injury was limited to survey-based data, and the inclusion of cases from a single trauma centre, without adequate controls. Beyond these limitations was the inability of prior researchers to comprehensively capture most alcohol sales. In Ontario, most alcohol is sold through retail outlets run by the provincial government, and hospitals are financed under a provincial health care system. We assessed the risk of being hospitalized due to assault in association with retail alcohol sales across Ontario.
Methods and Findings
We performed a population-based case-crossover analysis of all persons aged 13 years and older hospitalized for assault in Ontario from 1 April 2002 to 1 December 2004. On the day prior to each assault case's hospitalization, the volume of alcohol sold at the store in closest proximity to the victim's home was compared to the volume of alcohol sold at the same store 7 d earlier. Conditional logistic regression analysis was used to determine the associated relative risk (RR) of assault per 1,000 l higher daily sales of alcohol. Of the 3,212 persons admitted to hospital for assault, nearly 25% were between the ages of 13 and 20 y, and 83% were male. A total of 1,150 assaults (36%) involved the use of a sharp or blunt weapon, and 1,532 (48%) arose during an unarmed brawl or fight. For every 1,000 l more of alcohol sold per store per day, the relative risk of being hospitalized for assault was 1.13 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02–1.26). The risk was accentuated for males (1.18, 95% CI 1.05–1.33), youth aged 13 to 20 y (1.21, 95% CI 0.99–1.46), and those in urban areas (1.19, 95% CI 1.06–1.35).
Conclusions
The risk of being a victim of serious assault increases with alcohol sales, especially among young urban men. Akin to reducing the risk of driving while impaired, consideration should be given to novel methods of preventing alcohol-related violence.
In a population-based case-crossover analysis, Joel Ray and colleagues find that the risk of being a victim of serious assault increases with retail alcohol sales, especially among young urban men.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Alcohol has been produced and consumed around the world since prehistoric times. In the Western world it is now the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug (a substance that changes mood, behavior, and thought processes). The World Health Organization reports that there are 76.3 million persons with alcohol use disorders worldwide. Alcohol consumption is an important factor in unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, and in violent criminal behavior. In the United Kingdom, for example, a higher proportion of heavy drinkers than light drinkers cause violent criminal offenses. Other figures suggest that people (in particular, young men) have an increased risk of committing a criminally violent offense within 24 h of drinking alcohol. There is also some evidence that suggests that the victims as well as the perpetrators of assaults have often been drinking recently, possibly because alcohol impairs the victim's ability to judge potentially explosive situations.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to know more about the relationship between alcohol and intentional violence. The recognition of a clear link between driving when impaired by alcohol and motor vehicle crashes has led many countries to introduce public awareness programs that stigmatize drunk driving. If a clear link between alcohol consumption by the people involved in violent crime could also be established, similar programs might reduce alcohol-related assaults. The researchers tested the hypothesis that the risk of being hospitalized due to a violent assault increases when there are increased alcohol sales in the immediate vicinity of the victim's place of residence.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did their study in Ontario, Canada for three reasons. First, Ontario is Canada's largest province. Second, the province keeps detailed computerized medical records, including records of people hospitalized from being violently assaulted. Third, most alcohol is sold in government-run shops, and the district has the infrastructure to allow daily alcohol sales to be tracked. The researchers identified more than 3,000 people over the age of 13 y who were hospitalized in the province because of a serious assault during a 32-mo period. They compared the volume of alcohol sold at the liquor store nearest to the victim's home the day before the assault with the volume sold at the same store a week earlier (this type of study is called a “case-crossover” study). For every extra 1,000 l of alcohol sold per store per day (a doubling of alcohol sales), the overall risk of being hospitalized for assault increased by 13%. The risk was highest in three subgroups of people: men (18% increased risk), youths aged 13 to 20 y (21% increased risk), and those living in urban areas (19% increased risk). At peak times of alcohol sales, the risk of assault was 41% higher than at times when alcohol sales were lowest.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the risk of being seriously assaulted increases with the amount of alcohol sold locally the day before the assault and show that the individuals most at risk are young men living in urban areas. Because the study considers only serious assaults and alcohol sold in shops (i.e., not including alcohol sold in bars), it probably underestimates the association between alcohol and assault. It also does not indicate whether the victim or perpetrator of the assault (or both) had been drinking, and its findings may not apply to countries with different drinking habits. Nevertheless, these findings support the idea that the consumption of alcohol contributes to the occurrence of medical injuries from intentional violence. Increasing the price of alcohol or making alcohol harder to obtain might help to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related assaults. The researchers suggest that a particularly effective approach may be to stigmatize alcohol-related brawling, analogous to the way that driving under the influence of alcohol has been made socially unacceptable.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050104.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Bennetts and Seabrook
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides information on all aspects of alcohol abuse, including an article on alcohol use and violence among young adults
Alcohol-related assault is examined in the British Crime Survey
Alcohol Concern, the UK national agency on alcohol misuse, provides fact sheets on the health impacts of alcohol, young people's drinking, and alcohol and crime
The Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto provides information about alcohol addiction (in English and French)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050104
PMCID: PMC2375945  PMID: 18479181
17.  Health Care Reform and Integrated Care: A Golden Opportunity for Preventive Psychiatry 
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes provisions to shift the U.S. health care system to address achieving wellness rather than just treating illness. In this Open Forum, the Prevention Committee of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry describes opportunities created by the ACA for improving prevention of mental illnesses and promotion of mental health. These include improved coverage of preventive services, models to integrate primary and behavioral health care, and establishment of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, which has developed a National Prevention Strategy. The authors describe the important role that psychiatrists can play in advancing prevention of mental illnesses, in particular by working to incorporate prevention strategies in integrated care initiatives and by collaborating with primary care providers to screen for risk factors and promote mental and emotional well-being.
doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201200072
PMCID: PMC4039288  PMID: 23203357
18.  Equity In Private Insurance Coverage For Substance Abuse: A Perspective On Parity 
Health affairs (Project Hope)  2007;26(6):w706-w716.
Congress is considering enactment of comprehensive parity legislation. The intent of parity is to equalize private coverage of behavioral and general medical care, thereby improving efficiency and fairness in insurance markets. One issue is whether to extend parity to substance abuse (SA) benefits. In the past, inclusion of substance abuse has been a hurdle to passage of parity. We examine the politics of SA parity, compare coverage trends for substance abuse and mental health, and assess the rationale for equalizing benefits. We conclude that the justification for SA parity is as compelling as it is for mental health parity.
doi:10.1377/hlthaff.26.6.w706
PMCID: PMC3072843  PMID: 17956926
19.  The Case for Chronic Disease Management for Addiction 
Journal of addiction medicine  2008;2(2):55-65.
Chronic disease (care) management (CDM) is a patient-centered model of care that involves longitudinal care delivery; integrated, and coordinated primary medical and specialty care; patient and clinician education; explicit evidence-based care plans; and expert care availability. The model, incorporating mental health and specialty addiction care, holds promise for improving care for patients with substance dependence who often receive no care or fragmented ineffective care. We describe a CDM model for substance dependence and discuss a conceptual framework, the extensive current evidence for component elements, and a promising strategy to reorganize primary and specialty health care to facilitate access for people with substance dependence. The CDM model goes beyond integrated case management by a professional, colocation of services, and integrated medical and addiction care—elements that individually can improve outcomes. Supporting evidence is presented that: 1) substance dependence is a chronic disease requiring longitudinal care, although most patients with addictions receive no treatment (eg, detoxification only) or short-term interventions, and 2) for other chronic diseases requiring longitudinal care (eg, diabetes, congestive heart failure), CDM has been proven effective.
doi:10.1097/ADM.0b013e318166af74
PMCID: PMC2756688  PMID: 19809579
chronic disease management; addiction; primary care; linkage; addiction treatment; chronic care model; recovery
20.  What Are Young Adults Saying About Mental Health? An Analysis of Internet Blogs 
Background
Despite the high prevalence of mental health concerns, few young adults access treatment. While much research has focused on understanding the barriers to service access, few studies have explored unbiased accounts of the experiences of young adults with mental health concerns. It is through hearing these experiences and gaining an in-depth understanding of what is being said by young adults that improvements can be made to interventions focused on increasing access to care.
Objective
To move beyond past research by using an innovative qualitative research method of analyzing the blogs of young adults (18–25 years of age) with mental health concerns to understand their experiences.
Methods
We used an enhanced Internet search vehicle, DEVONagent, to extract Internet blogs using primary keywords related to mental health. Blogs (N = 8) were selected based on age of authors (18–25 years), gender, relevance to mental health, and recency of the entries. Blogs excerpts were analyzed using a combination of grounded theory and consensual qualitative research methods.
Results
Two core categories emerged from the qualitative analysis of the bloggers accounts: I am powerless (intrapersonal) and I am utterly alone (interpersonal). Overall, the young adult bloggers expressed significant feelings of powerlessness as a result of their mental health concerns and simultaneously felt a profound sense of loneliness, alienation, and lack of connection with others.
Conclusions
The present study suggests that one reason young adults do not seek care might be that they view the mental health system negatively and feel disconnected from these services. To decrease young adults’ sense of powerlessness and isolation, efforts should focus on creating and developing resources and services that allow young adults to feel connected and empowered. Through an understanding of the experiences of young adults with mental health problems, and their experiences of and attitudes toward receiving care, we provide some recommendations for improving receptivity and knowledge of mental health care services.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1868
PMCID: PMC3374526  PMID: 22569642
Young adult; mental health; mental health services; life experiences; blogging; qualitative research
21.  Substance Use and Access to Health Care and Addiction Treatment among Homeless and Vulnerably Housed Persons in Three Canadian Cities 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75133.
Introduction
We examined the prevalence of substance use disorders among homeless and vulnerably housed persons in three Canadian cities and its association with unmet health care needs and access to addiction treatment using baseline data from the Health and Housing in Transition Study.
Methods
In 2009, 1191 homeless and vulnerably housed persons were recruited in Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa, Canada. Interviewer administered questionnaires collected data on socio-demographics, housing history, chronic health conditions, mental health diagnoses, problematic drug use (DAST-10≥6), problematic alcohol use (AUDIT≥20), unmet physical and mental health care needs, addiction treatment in the past 12 months. Three multiple logistic regression models were fit to examine the independent association of substance use with unmet physical health care need, unmet mental health care need, and addiction treatment.
Results
Substance use was highly prevalent, with over half (53%) screening positive for the DAST-10 and 38% screening positive for the AUDIT. Problematic drug use was 29%, problematic alcohol use was lower at 16% and 7% had both problematic drug and alcohol use. In multiple regression models for unmet need, we found that problematic drug use was independently associated with unmet physical (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.95; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.43–2.64) and unmet mental (AOR 3.06; 95% CI 2.17–4.30) health care needs. Problematic alcohol use was not associated with unmet health care needs. Among those with problematic substance use, problematic drug use was associated with a greater likelihood of accessing addiction treatment compared to those with problematic alcohol use alone (AOR 2.32; 95% CI 1.18–4.54).
Conclusions
Problematic drug use among homeless and vulnerably housed individuals was associated with having unmet health care needs and accessing addiction treatment. Strategies to provide comprehensive health services including addiction treatment should be developed and integrated within community supported models of care.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075133
PMCID: PMC3790780  PMID: 24124470
22.  Reinterpreting Ethnic Patterns among White and African American Men Who Inject Heroin: A Social Science of Medicine Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e452.
Background
Street-based heroin injectors represent an especially vulnerable population group subject to negative health outcomes and social stigma. Effective clinical treatment and public health intervention for this population requires an understanding of their cultural environment and experiences. Social science theory and methods offer tools to understand the reasons for economic and ethnic disparities that cause individual suffering and stress at the institutional level.
Methods and Findings
We used a cross-methodological approach that incorporated quantitative, clinical, and ethnographic data collected by two contemporaneous long-term San Francisco studies, one epidemiological and one ethnographic, to explore the impact of ethnicity on street-based heroin-injecting men 45 years of age or older who were self-identified as either African American or white. We triangulated our ethnographic findings by statistically examining 14 relevant epidemiological variables stratified by median age and ethnicity. We observed significant differences in social practices between self-identified African Americans and whites in our ethnographic social network sample with respect to patterns of (1) drug consumption; (2) income generation; (3) social and institutional relationships; and (4) personal health and hygiene. African Americans and whites tended to experience different structural relationships to their shared condition of addiction and poverty. Specifically, this generation of San Francisco injectors grew up as the children of poor rural to urban immigrants in an era (the late 1960s through 1970s) when industrial jobs disappeared and heroin became fashionable. This was also when violent segregated inner city youth gangs proliferated and the federal government initiated its “War on Drugs.” African Americans had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families. Most of the whites were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime. These historical-structural conditions generated distinct presentations of self. Whites styled themselves as outcasts, defeated by addiction. They professed to be injecting heroin to stave off “dopesickness” rather than to seek pleasure. African Americans, in contrast, cast their physical addiction as an oppositional pursuit of autonomy and pleasure. They considered themselves to be professional outlaws and rejected any appearance of abjection. Many, but not all, of these ethnographic findings were corroborated by our epidemiological data, highlighting the variability of behaviors within ethnic categories.
Conclusions
Bringing quantitative and qualitative methodologies and perspectives into a collaborative dialog among cross-disciplinary researchers highlights the fact that clinical practice must go beyond simple racial or cultural categories. A clinical social science approach provides insights into how sociocultural processes are mediated by historically rooted and institutionally enforced power relations. Recognizing the logical underpinnings of ethnically specific behavioral patterns of street-based injectors is the foundation for cultural competence and for successful clinical relationships. It reduces the risk of suboptimal medical care for an exceptionally vulnerable and challenging patient population. Social science approaches can also help explain larger-scale patterns of health disparities; inform new approaches to structural and institutional-level public health initiatives; and enable clinicians to take more leadership in changing public policies that have negative health consequences.
Bourgois and colleagues found that the African American and white men in their study had a different pattern of drug use and risk behaviors, adopted different strategies for survival, and had different personal histories.
Editors' Summary
Background.
There are stark differences in the health of different ethnic groups in America. For example, the life expectancy for white men is 75.4 years, but it is only 69.2 years for African-American men. The reasons behind these disparities are unclear, though there are several possible explanations. Perhaps, for example, different ethnic groups are treated differently by health professionals (with some groups receiving poorer quality health care). Or maybe the health disparities are due to differences across ethnic groups in income level (we know that richer people are healthier). These disparities are likely to persist unless we gain a better understanding of how they arise.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to study the health of a very vulnerable community of people: heroin users living on the streets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The health status of this community is extremely poor, and its members are highly stigmatized—including by health professionals themselves. The researchers wanted to know whether African American men and white men who live on the streets have a different pattern of drug use, whether they adopt varying strategies for survival, and whether they have different personal histories. Knowledge of such differences would help the health community to provide more tailored and culturally appropriate interventions. Physicians, nurses, and social workers often treat street-based drug users, especially in emergency rooms and free clinics. These health professionals regularly report that their interactions with street-based drug users are frustrating and confrontational. The researchers hoped that their study would help these professionals to have a better understanding of the cultural backgrounds and motivations of their drug-using patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Over the course of six years, the researchers directly observed about 70 men living on the streets who injected heroin as they went about their usual lives (this type of research is called “participant observation”). The researchers specifically looked to see whether there were differences between the white and African American men. All the men gave their consent to be studied in this way and to be photographed. The researchers also studied a database of interviews with almost 7,000 injection drug users conducted over five years, drawing out the data on differences between white and African men. The researchers found that the white men were more likely to supplement their heroin use with inexpensive fortified wine, while African American men were more likely to supplement heroin with crack. Most of the white men were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime, and these men tended to consider themselves as destitute outcasts. African American men had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families, and these men tended to consider themselves as professional outlaws. The white men persevered less in attempting to find a vein in which to inject heroin, and so were more likely to inject the drug directly under the skin—this meant that they were more likely to suffer from skin abscesses. The white men generated most of their income from panhandling (begging for money), while the African American men generated most of their income through petty crime and/or through offering services such as washing car windows at gas stations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Among street-based heroin users, there are important differences between white men and African American men in the type of drugs used, the method of drug use, their social backgrounds, the way in which they identify themselves, and the health risks that they take. By understanding these differences, health professionals should be better placed to provide tailored and appropriate care when these men present to clinics and emergency rooms. As the researchers say, “understanding of different ethnic populations of drug injectors may reduce difficult clinical interactions and resultant physician frustration while improving patient access and adherence to care.” One limitation of this study is that the researchers studied one specific community in one particular area of the US—so we should not assume that their findings would apply to street-based heroin users elsewhere.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030452.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a web page on HIV prevention among injection drug users
The World Health Organization has collected documents on reducing the risk of HIV in injection drug users and on harm reduction approaches
The International Harm Reduction Association has information relevant to a global audience on reducing drug-related harm among individuals and communities
US-focused information on harm reduction is available via the websites of the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Chicago Recovery Alliance
Canada-focused information can be found at the Street Works Web site
The Harm Reduction Journal publishes open-access articles
The CDC has a web page on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities
The Drug Policy Alliance has a web page on drug policy in the United States
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030452
PMCID: PMC1621100  PMID: 17076569
23.  From Cat's Cradle to Beat the Reaper: Getting Evidence-Based Treatments into Practice In Spite of Ourselves 
Addictive behaviors  2011;36(6):597-600.
Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most influential novelists of the late 20th Century. His wry views of people and organizations are applicable to the today's efforts to use science to improve the effectiveness of substance use treatment programs. His 1963 book, Cat's Cradle pointed to the potentially disastrous consequences of the development of science for science's sake. Moving to more current viewpoints, in 2009 the young writer and medical doctor Josh Bazell published Beat the Reaper, a novel that discusses modern medical care and pharmaceutical treatments with sarcasm and wit. Currently we are witnessing many developments to incorporate evidence-based practices into addiction treatment, ranging from Institute of Medicine overviews to the organization the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, fielding the National Registry of National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices for preventing and treating substance abuse and mental health disorders, legislative initiatives, efforts to upgrade the treatment workforce and, most recently, health care reform. There are signs that these and other efforts are upgrading the effectiveness of treatments for addiction. Yet the checks and balances of every effort to create change make for a field that shows halting and peripatetic development. “Top-down” reforms are watered down by “bottom-up” approaches, and vice-versa. Several concrete steps can be taken to improve the magnitude and speed of change in the field. We cannot change human nature, but we can improve addiction treatment.
doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.01.026
PMCID: PMC3085322  PMID: 21330063
24.  Integrating substance abuse care with community diabetes care: implications for research and clinical practice 
Cigarette smoking and alcohol use are prevalent among individuals with diabetes in the US, but little is known about screening and treatment for substance use disorders in the diabetic population. This commentary discusses the scope and clinical implications of the public health problem of coexisting substance use and diabetes, including suggestions for future research. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, and is associated with many severe health complications like cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney damage, and limb amputations. There are an estimated 24 million adults in the US with type 2 diabetes. Approximately 20% of adults aged 18 years or older with diabetes report current cigarette smoking. The prevalence of current alcohol use in the diabetic population is estimated to be around 50%–60% in epidemiological surveys and treatment-seeking populations. Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in a dose-dependent manner and is an independent modifiable risk factor for development of type 2 diabetes. Diabetic patients with an alcohol or other drug use disorder show a higher rate of adverse health outcomes. For example, these patients experience more frequent and severe health complications as well as an increased risk of hospitalization, and require longer hospital stays. They are also less likely to seek routine care for diabetes or adhere to diabetes treatment than those without an alcohol or other drug use disorder. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Mental Health Parity Act and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 provide opportunities for facilitating integration of preventive services and evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders with diabetes care in community-based medical settings. These laws also offer emerging areas for research.
doi:10.2147/SAR.S39982
PMCID: PMC3558925  PMID: 23378792
addiction; illicit drug use; substance use disorder; substance abuse treatment; alcohol use; diabetes care; primary care; screening; brief intervention
25.  Integrating substance abuse care with community diabetes care: implications for research and clinical practice 
Cigarette smoking and alcohol use are prevalent among individuals with diabetes in the US, but little is known about screening and treatment for substance use disorders in the diabetic population. This commentary discusses the scope and clinical implications of the public health problem of coexisting substance use and diabetes, including suggestions for future research. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, and is associated with many severe health complications like cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney damage, and limb amputations. There are an estimated 24 million adults in the US with type 2 diabetes. Approximately 20% of adults aged 18 years or older with diabetes report current cigarette smoking. The prevalence of current alcohol use in the diabetic population is estimated to be around 50%–60% in epidemiological surveys and treatment-seeking populations. Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in a dose-dependent manner and is an independent modifiable risk factor for development of type 2 diabetes. Diabetic patients with an alcohol or other drug use disorder show a higher rate of adverse health outcomes. For example, these patients experience more frequent and severe health complications as well as an increased risk of hospitalization, and require longer hospital stays. They are also less likely to seek routine care for diabetes or adhere to diabetes treatment than those without an alcohol or other drug use disorder. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Mental Health Parity Act and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 provide opportunities for facilitating integration of preventive services and evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders with diabetes care in community-based medical settings. These laws also offer emerging areas for research.
doi:10.2147/SAR.S39982
PMCID: PMC3558925  PMID: 23378792
addiction; illicit drug use; substance use disorder; substance abuse treatment; alcohol use; diabetes care; primary care; screening; brief intervention

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