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Assessing understandings of substance use disorders among Norwegian treatment professionals, patients and the general public.

Vederhus JK, Clausen T, Humphreys K. Assessing understandings of substance use disorders among Norwegian treatment professionals, patients and the general public. BMC health services research. 2016 Feb 13; 16:52.

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BACKGROUND: Beliefs about substance use disorder (SUD) shape how patients, treatment professionals and the general public view addiction and its treatment. A U.S. developed scale exists to assess such beliefs, but it has never been tested in Norway nor normed on any general population sample. METHODS: The Short Understanding of Substance Abuse Scale (SUSS) was translated from English to Norwegian and used to assess beliefs about the nature of addiction among addiction treatment professionals (N = 291), patients with SUDs (N = 133) and respondents from the general public (N = 216). The disease and psychosocial model subscales of the SUSS were examined with a multigroup factor analysis to confirm that the constructs were invariant across the studied groups. We also controlled for demographic covariates in a multiple indicator multiple cause model. RESULTS: The multigroup confirmatory factor analysis of the SUSS yielded a partial scalar invariant model and thus, we were able to compare latent means between groups. In unadjusted comparisons, patients and the general public reported significantly higher endorsement of disease model beliefs than did professionals. However, the difference between professionals and the general public disappeared when the comparison was adjusted for covariates (i.e., age, gender, education). In both unadjusted and adjusted analyses, the general public group but not the patient group scored significantly lower than professionals on the psychosocial belief scale. CONCLUSION: The SUSS is useable with slight adaptations in Norwegian samples. Norwegian treatment professionals have different views of substance use disorder than do patients and the general public. This may create opportunities for dialogue and mutual learning, but also presents risk of miscommunication and distrust.

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