Planned and unplanned discharge from alcohol services in Scotland, 2004-2008

Rosemary Newham, Christopher Russell, John Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Available data suggests that the rate of unplanned discharge from alcohol treatment services is an international problem reflective, perhaps, of ambivalence surrounding treatment in general. Given Scotland's escalating prevalence of alcohol misuse, a preliminary study of Scottish dropout rates would make a useful contribution to the international scene.
A retrospective analysis of discharge statuses (planned/unplanned/disciplinary) of entries to alcohol treatment services between 1 April 2004 and 31 March 2008 was conducted on data provided by 10 regional Drug and Alcohol Action Teams (DAATs) and three individual treatment providers.
Of 48,299 cases, 52.23% (n = 25,231) were unplanned discharges. Data showed a general increasing trend in the rate of planned discharges across the examined 4-year period, from 41.66% in 2004-2005 to 51.94% in 2007-2008. Inspection of the data revealed marked regional variations in ratios of planned to unplanned discharge, with only four of the 10 regions examined reporting a planned discharge rate > 50%.
More than one of every two entries to alcohol misuse services between 2004 and 2008 resulted in an unplanned discharge. The trend of improvement over the examined 4-year period was not consistent for all regions. A comparison of this figure with available US and Welsh data is made. The importance of these data in assessing the cost-effectiveness of alcohol treatment services and implications for policy making is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages5
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • planned discharge
  • unplanned discharge
  • alcohol services
  • scotland


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