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Pharmacotherapy of alcohol use disorders by the Veterans Health Administration: patterns of receipt and persistence.

Harris AH, Oliva E, Bowe T, Humphreys KN, Kivlahan DR, Trafton JA. Pharmacotherapy of alcohol use disorders by the Veterans Health Administration: patterns of receipt and persistence. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2012 Jul 1; 63(7):679-85.

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OBJECTIVE: This study assessed changes since 2007 at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities (N = 129) in use of the medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of alcohol use disorders. METHODS: VHA data from fiscal years (FYs) 2008 and 2009 were used to identify patients with a diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder who received oral or extended-release naltrexone, disulfiram, or acamprosate as well as the proportion of days covered (PDC) in the 180 days after initiation and the time to first ten-day gap in possession (persistence) for each medication. Multilevel, mixed-effects logistic regression models examined the association between patient and facility characteristics and use of medications. RESULTS: Nationally, 3.4% of VHA patients with an alcohol use disorder received medications in FY 2009 (11,165 of 331,635 patients), up from 3.0% in FY 2007. Use of medications by patients at the facilities ranged from 0% to 12%. In fully adjusted analyses, facilities offering evening and weekend services had higher rates of medication receipt, but other facility characteristics, such as having prescribers on the addiction program's staff or using medication to treat opioid or tobacco dependence, were unrelated to medication receipt. The mean PDC of acamprosate was significantly lower than mean PDCs of the other medications (p < .05), and persistence in use of naltrexone was significantly greater than use of acamprosate and significantly less than use of disulfiram (p < .05). CONCLUSIONS: Use of these medications is increasing but remains variable across the VHA system. Interventions are needed to optimize initiation of and persistence in use of these medications.

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