Mental health hospital admissions: a teachable moment and window of opportunity to promote change in drug and alcohol misuse

Hermine L. Graham, Alex Copello, Emma Griffith, Latoya Clarke, Kathryn Walsh, Amanda L. Baker, Max Birchwood

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Hospital admissions provide a “teachable moment”. Many patients admitted to mental health hospitals have co-existing substance misuse. As acute symptoms decline, a window of increased insight into factors that contributed to becoming unwell and admission may present. This study used this “teachable” opportunity to assess the acceptability of delivering a brief integrated motivational intervention (BIMI) to inpatients and the feasibility of delivery by inpatient staff. Qualitative interviews were completed with 21 inpatients experiencing co-occurring schizophrenia-related or bipolar disorder diagnoses and substance misuse who received the BIMI. Twelve staff members completed either individual interviews or a focus group. Four themes were identified from the qualitative interviews with participants; these were openness/readiness to talk about substance use, feeling valued, understanding substance use and helpful skills and processes; each with a number of subthemes. Participants appeared to find the intervention useful; although, felt they did not always have the “headspace”. One theme emerged from the staff data, the acceptability of the approach for inpatient ward staff, which had four subthemes; training in the intervention; delivering the intervention; joint working; and feasibility. Staff considered the targeted style of the BIMI useful. Delivery considerations included “timing” and competing ward duties. Hospital admission presents a natural window of opportunity for staff to start conversations with inpatients about substance misuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-40
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number1
Early online date26 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019


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