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Kosteniuk B, Salvalaggio G, Wild TC, Gelberg L, Hyshka E. Perceived unmet substance use and mental health care needs of acute care patients who use drugs: A cross-sectional analysis using the Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations. Drug and Alcohol Review. 2022 May 1; 41(4):830-840.
INTRODUCTION: The perceived unmet service needs of acute care-seeking people who use illegal drugs (PWUD) have been poorly documented, despite evidence of frequent hospital utilisation. This study applies the Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations to investigate correlates of unmet service needs in this subpopulation. METHODS: Survey data from 285 PWUD at three urban Canadian acute care centres were examined. The survey included the Perceived Need for Care Questionnaire, which measured service seeking and care satisfaction for mental health and substance use concerns across seven types of services, as well as barriers to having care needs met. The Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations was applied in hierarchical setwise logistic regression to examine associations between high unmet service need and socio-structural predictors (i.e. predisposing, enabling and need factors). RESULTS: Almost half (46%) of participants reported a high level of unmet service need, despite seeking services during the past year. Participants reporting recent criminal activity, adverse childhood experiences, transitory sleeping, having no community support worker, and meeting screening criteria for depression were more likely to report a high level of unmet service needs. Structural barriers to care (57%) were more commonly reported than motivational barriers (43%). DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Acute care-seeking PWUD experience high rates of unmet service needs for their mental health and substance use problems. Strategies that can help overcome structural barriers to care are necessary to help address the service needs of this population.