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Substance Abuse, Community Service Use, and Symptom Severity of Urban and Rural Residents With Schizophrenia
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OBJECTIVE: This study examined the relationships of substance abuse, use of community-based services, and symptom severity among rural and urban residents with schizophrenia in the six months after discharge from short-term inpatient care.

METHODS: At baseline and six-month follow-up, symptom severity of 139 subjects was assessed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), and substance abuse status was determined using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID). Subjects' reports of mental health service use were confirmed by record review.

RESULTS: Although, on average, BPRS scores indicated symptom improvement between baseline and follow-up, symptoms worsened for 27 percent of subjects. Multivariate analysis, adjusted for baseline symptom severity, indicated poorer outcomes for rural residents, substance abusers, and subjects who did not use community services. Symptoms of rural substance abusers who used no community services were worse at follow-up than those of any other subgroup. Nearly half of all subjects had less than monthly contact with community services. The greater likelihood of symptom worsening among rural residents was attributed to their less frequent use of community services.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings reinforce the importance of ensuring involvement in community-based services for individuals with comorbid schizophrenia and substance use disorders. Promotion of service use by persons with a dual diagnosis may be particularly critical to the well-being of rural residents with schizophrenia. (Authors)
Psychiatric Services
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services