Trends and Disparities in Treatment for Co-occurring Major Depression and Substance Use Disorders Among US Adolescents From 2011 to 2019

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JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Oct 1;4(10):e2130280. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.30280.


IMPORTANCE: Major depression and substance use disorders (SUD) commonly co-occur among adolescents, yet little is known about treatment use among adolescents with both conditions. Given the reciprocal influence of these conditions on each other and low prevalence of treatment overall, current information on quantification and trends in treatment of co-occurring depression and SUD is critical toward assessing how the field is performing in reaching youth in need of these services, and among youth with sociodemographic risk factors.

OBJECTIVE: To examine temporal trends and sociodemographic disparities in the treatment of co-occurring major depression and SUD among US adolescents.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This survey study used publicly available data for adolescents aged 12 to 17 years from the annual cross-sectional surveys of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2011 to 2019 to assess co-occurrence of major depressive episodes (MDE) and SUD through time and prevalence of treatment for either or both of these conditions. Data were analyzed between October 2020 and February 2021.

EXPOSURES: Survey years, adolescent age, gender, race and ethnicity, type of insurance, annual household income, family structure, and residential stability.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Presence and treatment of co-occurring 12-month MDE and SUD.

RESULTS: In total, 136 262 adolescents participated in the 2011 to 2019 surveys, among whom 69 584 (51.1%) were boys and 66 678 (49.0%) were girls, 46 548 (34.1%) were aged 16 to 17 years, and 18 173 (13.8%) were Black, 28 687 (23.2%) were Hispanic, and 74 512 (53.6%) were White. From 2011 to 2019, the annual prevalence of co-occurring MDE and SUD remained stable, at between 1.4% and 1.7%. Among adolescents with co-occurring MDE and SUD, the prevalence of treatment use for MDE only increased significantly from 28.5% in 2011 to 42.5% in 2019 (odds ratio [OR], 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02-1.11; P = .005), whereas the prevalence of treatment use for SUD only decreased from 4.8% to 1.5% (OR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.85-0.99; P = .04). Overall, the prevalence of treatment use for both conditions fluctuated between 4.5% and 11.6%, without a significant linear trend over time (OR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.87-1.03; P = .24). Extensive disparities in treatment use were found among boys for SUD and both conditions, older adolescents for MDE, Hispanic adolescents for co-occurring conditions (adjusted OR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.27-0.98; P = .04), and Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander adolescents for MDE (adjusted OR, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.10-0.58; P = .002) and co-occurring conditions (adjusted OR, 0.04; 95% CI, 0.01-0.33; P = .003). Moving households 3 or more times in the past 12 months was associated with higher odds that adolescents received treatment for both conditions (adjusted OR, 2.52; 95% CI, 1.26-5.05; P = .009).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This survey study found that from 2011 to 2019, less than 12% of adolescents with major depression and SUD received treatment for both conditions from 2011 to 2019. Findings from this study call for expanded service provision for adolescents with co-occurring conditions, improved coordination between service delivery systems, and enhanced policy and funding support for adolescents with unmet treatment needs.

PMID:34668942 | DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.30280