Perceptions of Behavioral Health Care Among Veterans with Substance Use Disorders

Results from a National Evaluation of Mental Health Services in the Veterans Health Administration

Published in: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, v. 47, no. 2, Aug. 2014, p. 122-129

Posted on RAND.org on July 09, 2014

by Daniel M. Blonigen, Leena Bui, Alex H S Harris, Kimberly A. Hepner, Daniel R. Kivlahan

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Understanding patients' perceptions of care is essential for health care systems. We examined predictors of perceptions of behavioral health care (satisfaction with care, helpfulness of care, and perceived improvement) among veterans with substance use disorders (SUD; n = 1,581) who participated in a phone survey as part of a national evaluation of mental health services in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration. In multivariate analyses, SUD specialty care utilization and higher mental health functioning were associated positively with all perceptions of care, and comorbid schizophrenia, bipolar, and PTSD were associated positively with multiple perceptions of care. Perceived helpfulness of care was associated with receipt of SUD specialty care in the prior 12 months (adjusted OR = 1.77, p < .001). Controlling for patient characteristics, satisfaction with care exhibited strong associations with perceptions of staff as supportive and empathic, whereas perceived improvement was strongly linked to the perception that staff helped patients develop goals beyond symptom management. Survey responses that account for variation in SUD patients' perceptions of care could inform and guide quality improvement efforts with this population.

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