Main reasons for hospital admissions by women with a history of methadone maintenance


  • Lucy Burns MPH, PhD, Grad Cert Health Policy, Senior Lecturer, Elizabeth Conroy BSc Hons, Senior Research Officer, Richard P. Mattick PhD, Professor.

Dr Lucy Burns, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Tel: +61 2 9385 0258; Fax: +61 2 9385 0222; E-mail:


Introduction and Aims. Although clinical studies have noted that women with opioid use disorders use have high levels of mental and physical health disorders and are exposed to high levels of violence, it is not known whether this occurs at a level of severity that warrants hospital admission. Design and Methods. Administrative data from a jurisdictional methadone program were linked with hospital inpatient records from 1998 to 2002 to determine the main reasons for hospital admission for a cohort of women with a prior or ongoing history of methadone maintenance. Rates of hospital admissions by the cohort were compared with hospitalisations by all women without an opioid-related hospital diagnosis from 1998 to 2002. Results. After controlling for age, country of birth and marital status, women with a history of methadone maintenance had more frequent hospital admissions for the mental and behavioural disorders [relative risk (RR) 3.9 (95% confidence intervals (CI): 3.7, 4.0)], diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue [RR 2.1 (95% CI: 1.9, 2.3)]; injuries and poisonings [RR 2.0 (95% CI: 1.9, 2.1)] and infectious and parasitic diseases [RR 1.4 (95% CI: 1.2, 1.6)]. At a more detailed level of diagnostic specificity, the methadone cohort was admitted more often for hepatitis C, septicaemia and head injuries. Discussion and Conclusion. The elevated risk of hospital admission for a number of disorders suggests that women with a history of methadone maintenance experience these health events at a level of severity warranting hospital admission. Further contextual work is necessary to determine the effective preventive and management strategies.[Burns L, Conroy E, Mattick RP. Main reasons for hospital admissions by women with a history of methadone maintenance. Drug Alcohol Rev 2010;29;669–675]