Clinical practice guidelines recommend concurrent treatment of co-occurring depression and substance use disorders; however, the degree to which patients with substance use disorders receive guideline-concordant treatment for depression is unknown. The authors investigated the provision of guideline-concordant depression treatment to patients with and without substance use disorders in a large integrated health care system.
In a retrospective cohort study of 53,034 patients diagnosed with a depressive disorder in fiscal year 2017 in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration, the authors assessed the association of comorbid substance use disorders with guideline-concordant depression treatment, including both medication and psychotherapy, while adjusting for patient demographic and clinical characteristics.
Guideline-concordant depression treatment was lower across metrics for patients with co-occurring depression and substance use disorders compared to those without substance use disorders. Consistent findings emerged in covariate-adjusted models of antidepressant treatment, such that patients with substance use disorders had 21% lower odds of guideline-concordant acute treatment (adjusted odds ratio=0.79, 95% CI=0.73, 0.84) and 26% lower odds of continuation of treatment (adjusted odds ratio=0.74, 95% CI=0.69, 0.79). With regard to psychotherapy, patients with co-occurring depression and substance use disorders had 13% lower odds (adjusted odds ratio=0.87, 95% CI=0.82, 0.91) of adequate acute-phase treatment and 19% lower odds (adjusted odds ratio=0.81; 95% CI=0.73, 0.89) of psychotherapy continuation.
Despite the availability of effective treatments for depression, patients with co-occurring substance use disorders are less likely to receive guideline-concordant depression treatment. Efforts to improve the provision of care to those with co-occurring substance use disorders should focus on clinician-based interventions and use of integrated care models to improve the quality of depression treatment.