• Chronic illness and multimorbidity among problem drug users: a comparative cross sectional pilot study in primary care.

      Cullen, Walter; O'Brien, Sarah; O'Carroll, Austin; O'Kelly, Fergus D; Bury, Gerard; UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, Coombe Healthcare Centre, Dublin,, Ireland. walter.cullen@ucd.ie (2012-02-01)
      BACKGROUND: Although multimorbidity has important implications for patient care in general practice, limited research has examined chronic illness and health service utilisation among problem drug users. This study aimed to determine chronic illness prevalence and health service utilisation among problem drug users attending primary care for methadone treatment, to compare these rates with matched 'controls' and to develop and pilot test a valid study instrument. METHODS: A cross-sectional study of patients attending three large urban general practices in Dublin, Ireland for methadone treatment was conducted, and this sample was compared with a control group matched by practice, age, gender and General Medical Services (GMS) status. RESULTS: Data were collected on 114 patients. Fifty-seven patients were on methadone treatment, of whom 52(91%) had at least one chronic illness (other then substance use) and 39(68%) were prescribed at least one regular medication. Frequent utilisation of primary care services and secondary care services in the previous six months was observed among patients on methadone treatment and controls, although the former had significantly higher chronic illness prevalence and primary care contact rates. The study instrument facilitated data collection that was feasible and with minimal inter-observer variation. CONCLUSION: Multimorbidity is common among problem drug users attending general practice for methadone treatment. Primary care may therefore have an important role in primary and secondary prevention of chronic illnesses among this population. This study offers a feasible study instrument for further work on this issue. (238 words).
    • Prevalence of problem alcohol use among patients attending primary care for methadone treatment.

      Ryder, Niamh; Cullen, Walter; Barry, Joseph; Bury, Gerard; Keenan, Eamon; Smyth, Bobby P; UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, Coombe Healthcare Centre, Dublin,, Ireland. niamh.ryder@ucd.ie (2012-02-01)
      BACKGROUND: Problem alcohol use is associated with adverse health outcomes among current or former heroin users and primary care is providing methadone treatment for increasing numbers of this population. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of problem alcohol use among current or former heroin users attending primary care for methadone treatment and to describe the socio-demographic characteristics and health service utilisation characteristics associated with problem alcohol uses. METHODS: We conducted a cross sectional survey of patients sampled from a national database of patients attending general practice for methadone treatment. Participants were recruited by their general practitioner and data was collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire, which included the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test ('AUDIT'), with a score of >7 considered abnormal (ie 'AUDIT positive cases') and socio-demographic, medical and substance use characteristics. RESULTS: We interviewed 196 patients (71% of those invited, 31% of those sampled, 11% of the national database). The median age was 32 years, 55% were hepatitis C positive, 79% had used illicit drugs in the previous month and 68% were male. Sixty-eight 'AUDIT positive' cases were identified (prevalence of 35%, 95% CI = 28-41%) and these were more likely to have attended a local Emergency Department in the previous year (p < 0.05) and less likely to have attended a hospital clinic in the previous year (p < 0.05). Twenty-seven (14%) scored 20 or higher indicating possible alcohol dependence. CONCLUSION: Problem alcohol use has a high prevalence among current or former heroin users attending primary care for methadone treatment and interventions that address this issue should be explored as a priority. Interventions that address problem alcohol use in this population should be considered as a priority, although the complex medical and psychological needs of this population may make this challenging.
    • Problem alcohol use among problem drug users in primary care: a qualitative study of what patients think about screening and treatment.

      Field, Catherine Anne; Klimas, Jan; Barry, Joseph; Bury, Gerard; Keenan, Eamon; Smyth, Bobby P; Cullen, Walter; UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, Coombe Healthcare Centre, Dolphins Barn, Dublin 8, Ireland. (2013)
      Problem alcohol use is common and associated with considerable adverse outcomes among patients who attend primary care in Ireland and other European countries for opiate substitution treatment. This paper aims to describe patients' experience of, and attitude towards, screening and therapeutic interventions for problem alcohol use in primary care.