Does anyone care about names? How attendees at substance misuse services like to be addressed by health professionals

Eur Addict Res. 2004;10(2):75-9. doi: 10.1159/000076117.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Names*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Patients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / methods
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires