Opioid dependence accompanied by polysubstance use is a chronic illness with severe somatic, psychological and social consequences for those affected. International studies have shown that healthcare provision is inadequate for this population because of stigmatization and lack of expertise among medical professionals. It must be assumed that this is also the case in acute care settings of hospitals in German-speaking areas of Switzerland. To date, there are few studies addressing these patients’ experiences that could provide data for targeted interventions.
This qualitative study explored this patient population’s perspective in terms of their experiences and needs regarding care provision in acute hospitals. The results should offer potential adaptations to care provision for this vulnerable group of individuals.
Twelve individuals with opioid dependence using polysubstances were interviewed in two urban substitution centers. The data analysis of the material obtained was undertaken using qualitative content analysis according to Mayring.
As a whole, individuals with opioid dependence using polysubstances are not dissatisfied with care provided in acute hospitals as long as their relationship with health professionals is positive. Substitution medication is critically important to their treatment, but this group’s experiences with its management during hospitalization continue to show widespread stigmatization along with inadequate knowledge and interprofessional collaboration and a failure to integrate these patients and their expertise into treatment and care.
Conclusions and Future Directions:
The treatment of individuals with substance-related disorders in acute hospitals requires staff with somatic and psychiatric training. In this regard, the principles of evidence-based models of reducing harm and multiprofessional treatment teams should be seen as particularly well suited and promising.