Rural/Urban Residence, Access, and Perceived Need for Treatment Among African American Cocaine Users

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To examine how rural/urban residence, perceived access, and other factors impede or facilitate perceived need for drug use treatment, a concept closely linked to treatment utilization.

Study Design:

Two hundred rural and 200 urban African American cocaine users who were not receiving treatment were recruited via Respondent-Driven Sampling and completed a structured in-person interview. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to test the associations between perceived need and rural/urban residence, perceived access, and other predisposing (eg, demographics), enabling (eg, insurance), and health factors (eg, psychiatric distress).

Principal Findings:

In bivariate analyses, rural relative to urban cocaine users reported lower perceived treatment need (37% vs 48%), availability, affordability, overall ease of access, and effectiveness, as well as lower perceived acceptability of residential, outpatient, self-help, and hospital-based services. In multivariate analyses, there was a significant interaction between rural/urban residence and the acceptability of religious counseling. At the highest level of acceptability, rural users had lower odds of perceived need (OR = 0.21); at the lowest level, rural users had higher odds of perceived need (OR = 3.97) than urban users. Among rural users, the acceptability of religious counseling was negatively associated with perceived need (OR = 0.65). Ease of access was negatively associated (OR = 0.71) whereas local treatment effectiveness (OR = 1.47) and the acceptability of hospital-based treatment (OR = 1.29) were positively associated with perceived need among all users.


Our findings suggest rural/urban disparities in perceived need and access to drug use treatment. Among rural and urban cocaine users, improving perceptions of treatment effectiveness and expanding hospital-based services could promote treatment seeking.

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