Objective: To determine the preference of substance misusers for the terms 'patient', 'client' and 'service user' in the context of their contact with health professionals, if they consider substance misuse problems to exist appropriately under the category of mental health problems and if they consider themselves to have mental health problems.
Methods: A self-completion questionnaire was administered to 150 National Health Service and private in- and outpatients with alcohol, drug and smoking problems.
Results: The majority (54%) preferred the term 'patient', felt substance misuse problems was a category of mental health problems (59%), even though the majority (62%) did not consider themselves to have a mental health problem. Broadly similar preferences were found for those attending drug services and alcohol services whilst those attending the smoking cessation service were less likely to consider it an appropriate location or description.
Discussion: The majority of substance misusers preferred to be called 'patients'. The location of substance misuse services within mental health provision was widely tolerated.
Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel