Veteran Perspectives on Adaptations to a VA Residential Rehabilitation Program for Substance Use Disorders During the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

Community Ment Health J. 2021 Jul;57(5):801-807. doi: 10.1007/s10597-021-00810-z. Epub 2021 Mar 6.


Individuals attending residential rehabilitation programs for substance misuse are particularly vulnerable to treatment disruptions spurred by the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We describe adaptations to services within a large residential rehabilitation program for under-resourced veterans, report veterans' experiences with these changes, and outline successes and challenges encountered throughout adjustment to the pandemic. Data collected from two focus groups with nine veterans engaged in this program during the pandemic highlight experiences of inconsistent communication about residential policies, interruptions to medical and addiction services, and feelings of confinement and social isolation. Overall, these findings suggest the need for health systems to support clients in taking an active role in communications, provide additional technical and social support in transitioning to virtual health services, and offer alternative means for clients to maintain social connection during a pandemic. Understanding clients' perspectives can inform strategies to promote continuity of care and enhanced care experiences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans / psychology*