Uncovering the specific physical and mental health disorders in people who use drugs in Oslo, Norway.

Author: Nina Auestad, Odd Martin Vallersnes, Anners Lerdal, Stig Tore Bogstrand, Linda Wüsthoff

Theme: Clinical Research Year: 2023

People with mental disorders and/or substance use disorders are estimated to have 15-20 years of lower life expectancy compared to the general population. This excess mortality is found to be high in all categories of medical conditions. In addition, deaths are caused by accidents and overdoses. People who use drugs (PWUD) often have a complex combination of psychiatric and physical conditions as well as altered cognitive functioning. These conditions often go unrecognized, resulting in delayed treatment and premature deaths. In this study, we aim to uncover the specific illnesses and comorbidities prevalent among people with severe drug addictions by doing a substantial mapping of PWUD in regard to mental and physical health, as well as cognitive functioning.

A total of 300 participants will be recruited from low threshold housing facilities for PWUD in Oslo Municipality and from the Substance Use Division at Oslo University Hospital. All participants will be mapped in regard to drug use, functional status (COOP/WONCA), mental health (SCL-5, IPDS-5, Dual-diagnosis screening tool; psychosis, ADHD, PTSD), substance use, and cognitive functioning (MOCA). Additionally, 50 of the participants will also be mapped in regard to physical health. The physical health assessment includes blood samples (including viral infections), urine sample (albumin-creatinine ratio), lung function (spirometry), dental assessment (including OHIP-5, periodontitis, teeth counting), ankle-brachial index, examination of skin, (mal)nutrition, and reproductive health.

Data collection is ongoing and scheduled to end by summer 2023, results will be presented at the conference.

This study presents baseline data from a project investigating the interplay between substance use, health and the use of health services in PWUD, and has the potential of changing the guidelines for the provision of health services to PWUD in the future.

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