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Co-occurring Medical Multimorbidity, Mental Illness, and Substance Use Disorders Among Older Criminal Legal System-Involved Veterans.

Han BH, Bronson J, Washington L, Yu M, Kelton K, Tsai J, Finlay AK. Co-occurring Medical Multimorbidity, Mental Illness, and Substance Use Disorders Among Older Criminal Legal System-Involved Veterans. Medical care. 2023 Jul 1; 61(7):477-483.

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BACKGROUND: Older veterans involved in the criminal legal system (CLS) may have patterns of multimorbidity that place them at risk for poor health outcomes. OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence of medical multimorbidity ( 2 chronic medical diseases), substance use disorders (SUDs), and mental illness among CLS-involved veterans aged 50 and older. RESEARCH DESIGN: Using Veterans Health Administration health records, we estimated the prevalence of mental illness, SUD, medical multimorbidity, and the co-occurrence of these conditions among veterans by CLS involvement as indicated by Veterans Justice Programs encounters. Multivariable logistic regression models assessed the association between CLS involvement, the odds for each condition, and the co-occurrence of conditions. SUBJECTS: Veterans aged 50 and older who received services at Veterans Health Administration facilities in 2019 (n = 4,669,447). METHODS: Mental illness, SUD, medical multimorbidity. RESULTS: An estimated 0.5% (n = 24,973) of veterans aged 50 and older had CLS involvement. For individual conditions, veterans with CLS involvement had a lower prevalence of medical multimorbidity compared with veterans without but had a higher prevalence of all mental illnesses and SUDs. After adjusting for demographic factors, CLS involvement remained associated with concurrent mental illness and SUD (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 5.52, 95% CI = 5.35-5.69), SUD and medical multimorbidity (aOR = 2.09, 95% CI = 2.04-2.15), mental illness and medical multimorbidity (aOR = 1.04, 95% CI = 1.01-1.06), and having all 3 simultaneously (aOR = 2.42, 95% CI = 2.35-2.49). CONCLUSIONS: Older veterans involved in the CLS are at high risk for co-occurring mental illness, SUDs, and medical multimorbidity, all of which require appropriate care and treatment. Integrated care rather than disease-specific care is imperative for this population.

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