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Understanding the health and service needs of diverse populations of pharmaceutical opioid users: Cohort studies of dependent users in treatment, and people who inject drugs


Nielsen, S and Larance, B and Bruno, RB and Lintzeris, N and Vanderhaven, M and Lattas, G and Holliday, S and Ling, S and Sadler, C and Holland, R and Dunlop, A and Silsbery, C and Haber, P and Murnion, B and Horden, A and Hardy, M and Demirkol, A and Burns, L and Campbell, G and Houseman, J and Degenhardt, L, Understanding the health and service needs of diverse populations of pharmaceutical opioid users: Cohort studies of dependent users in treatment, and people who inject drugs, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Australia, Technical Report 331 (2015) [Contract Report]

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National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2015


Background: This technical report summarises and compares the data collected across two time periods from two groups who use pharmaceutical opioids, those seeking treatment for PO dependence and those that inject drugs regularly. Methods: Six local health districts were utilised to recruit the treatment cohort (n=108). The cohort of people who inject drugs (PWID) were recruited through established studies at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and snowballing ( n=133). For the treatment cohort, baseline interviews were conducted between July 2013 and April 2014 and 94% completed a three month follow up interview (n=102). For the PWID cohort, rolling cohort entry occurred between July 2013 and June 2014, and the follow up interview rate was 76%. Data were collected on a range of physical and mental health domains, substance use and treatment experience.

Results: Both cohorts reported high levels of mental and physical health co-morbidity, with a general pattern of more severe physical and mental health problems among the treatment cohort. Substance use was generally stable over the two interviews in both cohorts, with those newer in treatment reporting greater reduction in opioid use in the POUT cohort, and a reduction in oxycodone injection in the PWID cohort.

Conclusions: These studies represent the first Australian studies to examine pharmaceutical opioid use in detail in diverse clinical populations. Findings highlight complexities in treatment presentations with multiple co-morbid health conditions and significant numbers reporting current chronic pain amongst both cohorts. Ongoing monitoring of harms in these cohorts is essential - both cohorts displayed complex clinical profiles. Despite low levels of illicit drug use and injection among the treatrment cohort participants, this cohort typically displayed more severe clinical profiles. Despite this, the treatment cohort reported high levels of retention and low levels of substance use at the follow-up interview, and reported generally positive treatment experiences. Mental health interventions for both these cohorts are warranted.

Item Details

Item Type:Contract Report
Keywords:opioid misuse;
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Other psychology
Research Field:Other psychology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bruno, RB (Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno)
ID Code:106540
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2016-02-13
Last Modified:2017-11-07
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