Paths to improving engagement among racial and ethnic minorities in addiction health services

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2015 Oct 26:10:40. doi: 10.1186/s13011-015-0036-z.


Background: Members of racial and ethnic minority groups are most likely to experience limited access and poor engagement in addiction treatment. Research has been limited on the role of program capacity and delivery of comprehensive care in improving access and retention among minorities with drug abuse issues. The goal of this study was to examine the extent to which access and retention are enhanced when racial and ethnic minorities receive care from high-capacity addiction health services (AHS) programs and via coordination with mental health and receipt of HIV testing services.

Methods: This multilevel cross-sectional analysis involved data from 108 programs merged with client data from 2011 for 13,478 adults entering AHS. Multilevel negative binomial regression models were used to test interactions and indirect relationships between program capacity and days to enter treatment (wait time) and days in treatment (retention).

Results: Compared to low-capacity programs and non-Latino and non-African American clients, Latinos and African Americans served in high-capacity programs reported shorter wait times to admission, as hypothesized. African Americans also had longer treatment retention in high-capacity programs. Receipt of HIV testing and program coordination of mental health services played an indirect role in the relationship between program capacity and wait time.

Conclusions: Program capacity and coordinated services in AHS may reduce disparities in access to care. Implications for supporting low-capacity programs to eliminate the disparity gap in access to care are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Mental Health Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • White People / psychology