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Psychiatric Care of Patients With Depression and Comorbid Substance Use Disorders.

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61:698-705

Background: The goal of this study was to describe the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and routine psychiatric care of depressed patients with or without substance use disorders (SUDs) and to assess the association between the presence of comorbid SUD and the psychiatric management of patients with depression.

Method: Each of a sample of 531 psychiatrists participating in the Practice Research Network (PRN) of the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education was asked to provide information about 3 randomly chosen patients. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire, which generated detailed diagnostic and clinical data on 1228 psychiatric patients. Weighted data were analyzed using the SUDAAN software package. Multivariate logistic regression was used to compare depressed patients with and without SUD.

Results: A total of 595 patients (48.4%) were diagnosed with depression (DSM-IV criteria). The prevalence of SUD (excluding nicotine dependence) in this group was 18.1%. The group with SUD had a significantly larger proportion of males, young adults, patients seen in public general hospitals, and non-managed care public plans. No significant group differences were found for primary payer, locus of care, length of treatment, type of current or past treatment, and prescription of medications. Only 2.2% of SUD patients were prescribed with an anti-SUD medication (i.e., disulfiram and naltrexone).

Conclusion: Concomitant SUDs have little effect on the routine psychiatric care of depressed patients. Efforts should be made to improve the identification and management of depressed patients with SUD.