Background: The prevalence of substance use in people acutely admitted to in-patient psychiatric wards is high and the patients` duration of stay is limited. Motivational interviewing is a method with evidence based effect in short interventions. The aims of the present study were to compare the effects of 2 sessions of motivational interviewing and treatment as usual (intervention group) with treatment as usual only (control group) on adult patients with comorbid substance use admitted to a psychiatric in-patient emergency unit.
Methods: This was an open randomised controlled trial including 135 patients where substance use influenced the admittance. After admission and assessments, the patients were allocated to the intervention group (n = 67) or the control group (n = 68). The primary outcome was self-reported days per month of substance use during the last 3 months at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months after inclusion. Data was analysed with a multilevel linear repeated measures regression model.
Results: Both groups reduced substance use during the first 12 months with no substantial difference between the 2 groups. At 2 year follow-up, the control group had increased their substance use with 2.4 days (95% confidence interval (CI) -1.5 to 6.3), whereas the intervention group had reduced their monthly substance use with 4.9 days (95% CI 1.2 to 8.6) compared to baseline. The 2 year net difference was 7.3 days of substance use per month (95% CI 1.9 to 12.6, p < 0.01) in favour of the intervention group.
Conclusions: The present study suggests that 2 sessions of motivational interviewing to patients with comorbid substance use admitted to a psychiatric emergency unit reduce substance use frequency substantially at 2 year follow-up.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00184223.