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Defining dual diagnosis : a qualitative study of the views of health care workers

journal contribution
posted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by Petra StaigerPetra Staiger, Caroline Long, M McCabe, L Ricciardelli
Background: 'Dual diagnosis' is the term of choice in many countries to describe clients with co-occurring mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues. However, it is not known if its meaning is consistently represented within and across health care services. This uncertainty has significant implications for referral, consultation and research.
Aim: To obtain information about the way that different health care professionals understand the term 'dual diagnosis'.
Method: Twenty-nine health care workers across five service types (medical, mental health, AOD, dual diagnosis and community health) in Victoria, Australia were interviewed about their understanding of the term 'dual diagnosis'.
Results: The findings indicated that service providers working in AOD and Mental Health had a shared general understanding of what was meant by 'dual diagnosis', despite uncertainties about more specific inclusion criteria. In contrast, medical and community health staff lacked a similar shared understanding, and were more likely to recommend change, but offered no consensus on alternatives.
Conclusion: The results indicate that while the term 'dual diagnosis' has value in efficiently directing attention to the complexity of treatment issues, health practitioners cannot assume it will convey the intended meaning outside mental health or AOD services. Clear articulation of the intended definition may be a necessary requirement in wider health care communication.

History

Journal

Mental health and substance use : dual diagnosis

Volume

1

Issue

3

Pagination

194 - 204

Publisher

Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

Location

Oxon, U.K.

ISSN

1752-3281

eISSN

1752-3273

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2008, Taylor & Francis