Overview of interventions to enhance primary-care provider management of patients with substance-use disorders


Peter Anderson MD, PhD, Honorary Assistant Professor. Dr Peter Anderson, Apartat de Correus 352, 17230 Palamos, Spain. E-mail: peteranderson.mail@gmail.com


Issues. Despite the evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions to manage substance use disorders, which are common presenting complaints in primary care, primary-care providers find managing substance use disorders a difficult business. This paper provides an overview of the evidence for interventions, including training and education programmes, in enhancing the management of alcohol- and tobacco-use disorders by health-care providers. Approach. The Cochrane Library and the database of the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group were searched for answers to five questions: (i) Can education and training increase the involvement of primary care providers? (ii) Can education and training cause harm? (iii) Can education and training be enhanced with support and other organisational factors? (iv) Can finance systems change provider behaviour? and (v) Is political support needed? Key Findings. Education and training can increase the involvement of primary-care providers in managing alcohol- and tobacco-use disorders, with the impact enhanced by additional support and other organisational factors. There is some evidence that if education and training does not take account of providers' attitudes, then harm can be caused. There is limited evidence that finance systems can change provider behaviour, and that comprehensive policy, in which a health sector response is a part, can increase the potential of primary-care management of alcohol- and tobacco-use disorders. Conclusions. Tailored education and training programmes for the management of alcohol- and tobacco-use disorders need to be broadly implemented and embedded in overall comprehensive policies that provide the necessary organisational and financial incentives for enhancing provider behaviour. There is an urgent need to extend the evidence base on the impact of education and training and other strategies to increase the involvement of providers in managing substance-use disorders.[Anderson P. Overview of interventions to enhance primary-care provider management of patients with substance-use disorders. Drug Alcohol Rev 2009;28:567–574]