Challenges in detecting and diagnosing substance use in women in the acute psychiatric department: A naturalistic cohort study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Psychiatry. 2016, 16(1) 10.1186/s12888-016-1124-y
Background: This study examines sex differences in substance use and substance use disorder in the acute psychiatric department, and possible interactions between sex and clinical and social factors associated with this phenomenon. Methods: Data concerning substance use were collected in a naturalistic cohort study (n = 384, 51.6% male, 48.4% female) in an acute psychiatric department. Recent intake of substances at admission, diagnosis of substance use disorder and demographic and socioeconomic information were recorded. At admission, serum and urine samples were analysed for substance use and breath analysis was performed for alcohol levels. Results: Twice as many men as women were diagnosed with substance use disorder, whereas there were no gender differences in the number of positive toxicology screenings. Toxicology screening revealed the use of non-prescribed medication with addiction potential in 40% of both female and male patients many of whom did not report this in the admission interview. A low level of education in men and absence of parental responsibility in women showed a statistically significant interaction with a current diagnosis of substance use disorder. Conclusions: Despite no sex differences in positive toxicology screenings in the acute psychiatric department, twice as many men as women are diagnosed with substance use disorders. The use of prescription drugs with addiction potential was widely under-reported by both sexes, in patients with no prescriptions for the medications. Women with no parental responsibility are overrepresented among those diagnosed with substance use disorder, as are men with a low level of education.