Research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveals that teaching patients in addiction treatment how to communicate with physicians, and providing training on using an electronic health records portal, empowers them to better engage in their health management.
This in turn may increase the likelihood that they will refrain from using drugs and alcohol, and remain in addiction treatment longer.
In this six-month study, about half of the patients were assigned to LINKAGE, a program which provided health information, guidance on how to effectively communicate with healthcare providers, and training in the patient portal.
The remaining participants were given Usual Care, which provided information on medical problems associated with alcohol and other drug use.
All participants received standard treatment, including medical exams, detoxification, therapy groups, individual counseling, and 12-step meetings.
LINKAGE, compared to Usual Care participants, logged into the portal more often, sent more messages to their primary care providers, viewed test results more often, and were more likely to discuss alcohol and other drug use with their primary care physicians. Patients participating in all six LINKAGE sessions had higher portal use, increased abstinence, and longer time in addiction treatment, compared to those who participated in fewer sessions.
More research is needed to see if these benefits extend past six months.
For a copy of the abstract, "Examination of the Effects of an Intervention Aiming to Link Patients Receiving Addiction Treatment With Health Care The LINKAGE Clinical Trial," published in JAMA Psychiatry, click here.