Background Quality of life (QoL) is increasingly recognized as central to the broad construct of recovery in patients with substance use disorders (SUD). However, few longitudinal studies have evaluated changes in QoL after SUD treatment and included patients with SUD that were compulsorily hospitalized. This study aimed to describe QoL among in-patients admitted either voluntarily or compulsorily to hospitalization and to examine patterns and predictors of QoL at admission and at 6 months post treatment. Methods This prospective study followed 202 hospitalized patients with SUD that were admitted voluntarily (N=137) or compulsorily (N=65). A generic QoL questionnaire (QoL-5) was used to assess QoL domains. Regression analysis was conducted to identify associations with QoL at baseline and to examine predictors of change in QoL at a 6-month follow-up. Results The majority of patients had seriously impaired QoL. Low QoL at baseline was associated with a high psychiatric symptom burden. Fifty-eight percent of patients experienced a positive QoL change at follow-up. Although the improvement in QoL was significant, it was considered modest (a mean 0.06 improvement in QoL-5 scores at follow-up; 95% confidence interval: 0.03 - 0.09; p<0.001). Patients admitted voluntarily and compulsorily showed QoL improvements of similar magnitude. Female gender was associated with a large, clinically relevant improvement in QoL at follow-up. Conclusions In-patient SUD treatment improved QoL at six month follow-up. These findings showed that QoL measurements were useful for providing evidence of therapeutic benefit in the SUD field.
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