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The impact of COVID-19 on trends in alcohol use disorder treatment in Veterans Health Administration.
Perumalswami PV, Kilpatrick S, Frost MC, Adams MA, Kim HM, Zhang L, Lin L. The impact of COVID-19 on trends in alcohol use disorder treatment in Veterans Health Administration. Addiction (Abingdon, England). 2023 Jun 1; 118(6):1062-1071.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS:
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted health-care provision in the United States and prompted increases in telehealth-delivery of care. This study measured alcohol use disorder (AUD) treatment trends across visit modalities before and during COVID-19.
DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS AND MEASUREMENTS:
We conducted a national, retrospective cohort study with interrupted time-series models to estimate the impact of COVID-19 on AUD treatment in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) in the United States during pre-COVID-19 (March 2019 to February 2020) and COVID-19 (March 2020 to February 2021) periods. We analyzed monthly trends in telephone, video and in-person visits for AUD treatment and compared patient and treatment characteristics of patients receiving AUD treatment between the pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 periods. AUD was defined using International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) codes for alcohol abuse (F10.1) and alcohol dependence (F10.2), which have previously been used to study AUD in VHA.
The predicted percentage of VHA patients with an AUD diagnosis receiving any AUD treatment at the beginning of the pre-COVID period was 13.8% (n? = 49?494). The predicted percentage decreased by 4.3% (P? = 0.001) immediately at the start of the COVID-19 period due to a decline in AUD psychotherapy. Despite an increase of 0.3% per month (P? = 0.026) following the start of COVID-19, the predicted percentage of VHA patients with an AUD diagnosis receiving any AUD treatment at the end of the study period remained below the pre-COVID-19 period. In February 2021, AUD psychotherapy visits were primarily delivered by video (50%, 58?748), followed by in-person (36.6%, 43?251) and telephone (13.8%, 16?299), while AUD pharmacotherapy visits were delivered by telephone (38.9%, 3623) followed by in-person (34.3%, 3193) and video (26.8%, 2498) modalities. Characteristics of VHA patients receiving AUD treatment were largely similar between pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 periods.
Despite increased telehealth use, the percentage of United States Veterans Health Administration patients with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnosis receiving AUD treatment declined during COVID-19 (March 2020 to February 2021) mainly due to a decrease in psychotherapy.