• 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 (2009)
      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).
    • Outcome of heroin-dependent adolescents presenting for opiate substitution treatment.

      Smyth, Bobby P; Fagan, John; Kernan, Kathy; Department of Public Health & Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. bobby.smyth@hse.ie (Journal of substance abuse treatment, 2012-01)
      Because the outcome of methadone and buprenorphine substitution treatment in adolescents is unclear, we completed a retrospective cohort study of 100 consecutive heroin-dependent adolescents who sought these treatments over an 8-year recruitment period. The participants' average age was 16.6 years, and 54 were female. Half of the patient group remained in treatment for over 1 year. Among those still in treatment at 12 months, 39% demonstrated abstinence from heroin. The final route of departure from the treatment program was via planned detox for 22%, dropout for 32%, and imprisonment for 8%. The remaining 39% were transferred elsewhere for ongoing opiate substitution treatment after a median period of 23 months of treatment. Males were more likely to exit via imprisonment (p < .05), but other outcomes were not predicted by gender. There were no deaths during treatment among these 100 patients who had a cumulative period of 129 person years at risk. Our findings suggest that this treatment delivers reductions in heroin use and that one fifth of patients will exit treatment following detox completion within a 1- to 2-year time frame.