Pilot Studies Examining Feasibility of Substance Use Disorder Screening and Treatment Linkage at Urban Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinics

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Abstract

Background:

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics provide critical public health services for screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections throughout the United States. These settings serve high-risk populations, often on a walk-in basis, and may be promising venues for integrating substance use disorder (SUD) services.

Methods:

We report findings from 2 pilot studies conducted at Baltimore City Health Department's STD clinics. The screening study characterized rates of SUDs among STD clinic patients. Patients waiting for services completed a diagnostic interview mapping to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition SUD criteria (n = 100). The Treatment Linkage Feasibility study examined the feasibility of linking STD clinic patients with opioid and/or cocaine use disorders to SUD treatment in the community (n = 21), using SUD-focused Patient Navigation services for 1 month after the STD clinic visit. Assessments were conducted at baseline and 1-month follow-up.

Results:

In the screening study, the majority of STD clinic patients met diagnostic criteria for alcohol and/or drug SUD (57%). Substance-specific SUD rates among patients were 35% for alcohol, 31% for cannabis, 11% for opioids, and 8% for stimulants (cocaine/amphetamines). In the Treatment Linkage Feasibility study, 57% (12/21) of participants attended at least 1 SUD service, and 38% (8/21) were actively enrolled in SUD treatment by 1-month follow-up. The sample reported significant reductions in past 30-day cocaine use from baseline to follow-up (P = 0.01).

Conclusions:

SUD rates are high among STD clinic patients. STD clinics are viable settings for initiating SUD treatment linkage services. Larger-scale research on integrating SUD services in these settings is needed.

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