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Treatment for dual diagnosis patients in the psychiatric and substance abuse systems.

Timko C, Dixon K, Moos RH. Treatment for dual diagnosis patients in the psychiatric and substance abuse systems. Mental health services research. 2005 Dec 1; 7(4):229-42.

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The purpose of this study was to describe and compare the extent to which psychiatric and substance abuse programs treating dual diagnosis patients in the residential and outpatient modalities offered the components recommended for this client group. Surveys were completed by managers of 753 programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs that had a treatment regimen oriented to dual diagnosis patients. Programs within both the psychiatric and substance abuse systems had some of the key services of integrated treatment (e.g., assessment and diagnosis, crisis intervention, counseling targeted at psychiatric and at substance use problems, medications, patient education, HIV screening and counseling, family counseling and education). However, compared to psychiatric programs, substance abuse programs were more likely to offer some of these services and other critical components (e.g., a cognitive-behavioral treatment orientation, assignment of a single case manager to each patient). Outpatient psychiatric programs were particularly lacking on key management practices (e.g., use of clinical practice guidelines, performance monitoring of providers) and services (e.g., detoxification, 12-step meetings) of integrated treatment. Generally, differences between psychiatric and substance abuse programs appeared to involve difficulties in developing treatment that is fully oriented toward the co-occurring diagnosis. To improve the provision of high-quality dual-focused care, we recommend planners' use of cross-system teams and applications of recently produced tools designed to increase programs' ability to deliver integrated care to dually disordered individuals.

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