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People registered with drug treatment services have increased risk of drug-related death following discharge from hospital

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Question: Are drug users at increased risk of drug-related death and non-drug-related suicide following discharge from hospital?

Population: In total 69 457 individuals (69% men) were registered on the Scottish Drug Misuse Database (SDMD) over a 10-year period (April 1996–March 2006). Deaths and hospital admissions were identified through linkage to national registers held by Scotland's Information Services Division, the General Register Office for Scotland and Health Protection Scotland.

Setting: Scotland drug services; April 1996–March 2006.

Prognostic factors: Drug use as indicated by SDMD and hospital admission. Time-at-risk was calculated as date of first attendance at drug treatment services to death or end of study (whichever came first), and categorised according to time since most recent hospitalisation: during hospitalisation; within 28 days; 29–90 days; 91 days to 1 year; and >1 year since discharge. The reference category was ‘never admitted’.

Outcomes: Drug-related death (DRD), defined as main cause of death recorded with an ICD code indicating mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance misuse; accidental poisoning; intentional self-poisoning or assault by drugs, medicaments and biological substances; and …

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  • Sources of funding: Medical Research Council and a grant from the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive.


  • Competing interests None.