Home > The use of primary care services by opiate-dependant injecting drug users in the era of 'shared care'.

Smyth, Bobby P and McMahon, Julie and O'Connor, JJ and Ryan, Jim (1999) The use of primary care services by opiate-dependant injecting drug users in the era of 'shared care'. European Journal of General Practice , 5 , pp. 143-148.

Across Europe, GPs are increasingly being encouraged to become more involved in the treatment of those who misuse drugs, as 'shared care' is being advocated. Against this background, the authors assessed utilisation of primary care services by injecting drug users (injectors) recruited from a specialist drug treatment setting. This research was based on interviews using a structured questionnaire and found that of 105 injectors, 70% had seen their GP in the previous year and 29% had done so more than 20 times. Although 50% had attended A&E, only 7% had done so more than five times. Of the 77 (73%) who identified a principal GP, 91% indicated that their GP was aware of their drug misuse and 37% reported that they were currently being prescribed benzodiazepines by their GP. The choice of benzodiazepine was a source of concern in nine cases.

In exploring management of troublesome medical symptoms, 65% of those who would see a doctor would opt for a GP, 22% would see their doctor in the drug treatment centre and 12% would go to A&E. Those opting to see a GP were more likely to currently have a principal GP and also more likely to have seen their GP in the past month.

The paper concludes that both GPs and specialist drug treatment services have substantial contact with injectors and at times provide overlapping roles; therefore policy should ensure increased communication between these two service providers, thereby facilitating integrated management.

Item Type:Article
Date:February 1999
Page Range:pp. 143-148
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
Subjects:T Demographic characteristics > Intravenous / injecting drug user
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
T Demographic characteristics > Doctor
B Substances > Opioids (opiates)
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health care programme or facility > Community-based treatment (primary care)

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