Treatment approaches for dual diagnosis clients in England.Drug Alcohol Rev 2008; 27(6):650-8DA
Dual diagnosis (DD, co-occurrence of substance use and mental health problems) prevalence data in England are limited to specific regions and reported rates vary widely. Reliable information on actual service provision for dual diagnosis clients has not been collated. Thus a national survey was carried out to estimate dual diagnosis prevalence in treatment populations and describe the service provision available for this client population in drug/alcohol (DAS) and mental health services (MHS).
A questionnaire was sent to managers of 706 DAS and 2374 MHS. Overall, 249 (39%) DAS and 493 (23%) MHS participated in the survey.
In both DAS and MHS, around 32% of clients were estimated to have dual diagnosis problems. However, fewer than 50% of services reported assessing clients for both problem areas. Regarding specific treatment approaches, most services (DAS: 88%, MHS: 87%) indicated working jointly with other agencies. Significantly fewer services used joint protocols (DAS: 55%, MHS: 48%) or shared care arrangements, including access to external drug/alcohol or mental health teams (DAS: 47%, MHS: 54%). Only 25% of DAS and 17% of MHS employed dual diagnosis specialists.
Dual diagnosis clients constitute a substantial proportion of clients in both DAS and MHS in England. Despite recent policy initiatives, joint working approaches tend to remain unstructured.