Patterns of Health Care Utilization for Asthma Treatment in Adults with Substance Use Disorders

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Objectives:National goals for improving asthma outcomes include decreasing emergency room utilization and increasing adherence to outpatient treatment guidelines. Few studies have examined the impact of substance use disorders on asthma treatment. The objective of this study was to describe correlations between substance use disorders and patterns of healthcare utilization for asthma care.Methods:We performed a retrospective analysis of 1999 Medicaid claims for adults with asthma from 5 states. Adjusted odds of receiving asthma treatment in outpatient, inpatient, and emergency settings were calculated for patients with substance use disorder (SUD).Results:Consistent patterns emerge demonstrating significantly lower odds of utilization of outpatient services for asthma in patients with SUD. A trend toward increased utilization of acute care resources was observed, with odds of emergency care for asthma significantly increased in New Jersey (odds ratio [OR], 1.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1–1.31) and Georgia (OR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.04–1.48), and odds of inpatient care for asthma significantly increased in Georgia (OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.03–1.95).Conclusions:Substance use disorders are associated with decreased odds of receiving outpatient care and equivalent or increased odds of receiving emergency and inpatient care for asthma. Consequently, outpatient-based strategies to improve asthma care may have a very limited impact for this population. Identifying asthma patients with SUD in acute care settings and enhancing the care they receive in these settings may be necessary to improve adherence to treatment guidelines and decrease utilization in this population.

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