Methadone maintenance in general practice: patients, workload, and outcomes

Wilson, P., Wilson, R. and Ralston, G.E. (1994) Methadone maintenance in general practice: patients, workload, and outcomes. British Medical Journal, 309(6955), pp. 641-644.

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OBJECTIVE--To assess recruitment to and work-load associated with methadone maintenance clinics in general practice; to investigate the characteristics of patients and outcomes associated with treatment.<p></p> DESIGN--Study of case notes.<p></p> SETTING--Methadone maintenance clinics run jointly by general practitioners and drug counsellors in two practices in Glasgow.<p></p> PARTICIPANTS--46 injecting drug users receiving methadone maintenance during an 18 month period, 31 of whom were recruited to clinic based methadone maintenance treatment and 15 of whom were already receiving methadone maintenance treatment from the general practitioners. Mean (SD) age of patients entering treatment was 29.6 (5.5) years; 29 were male. They had been injecting opiates for a mean 9.9 (5.1) years, and most had a concurrent history of benzodiazepine misuse. Average reported daily intake of heroin was approximately 0.75 g. Participants in treatment had high levels of preexisting morbidity, and most stated that they committed crime daily.<p></p> RESULTS--2232 patient weeks of treatment were studied. Mean duration of treatment during the study period was 50.7 (21.1) weeks and retention in treatment at 26 weeks was 83%. No evidence of illicit opiate use was obtained at an average of 78% of patients' consultations where methadone had been prescribed in the previous week; for opiate injection the corresponding figure was 86%.<p></p> CONCLUSIONS--Providing methadone maintenance in general practice is feasible. Although costs are considerable, the reduction in drug use, especially of intravenous opiates, is encouraging. Attending clinics also allows this population, in which morbidity is considerable, to receive other health care.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wilson, Prof Philip
Authors: Wilson, P., Wilson, R., and Ralston, G.E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
Journal Name:British Medical Journal
Journal Abbr.:BMJ
ISSN (Online):1756-1833
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