The effectiveness of a hospital-based intervention for patients with substance-use problems in the Western Cape

Katherine Sorsdahl, Dan J Stein, Lize Weich, David Fourie, Bronwyn Myers


District hospitals regularly experience a high incidence of substance use disorders, but rarely provide interventions. We describe the effectiveness of an intervention developed and implemented by a Western Cape hospital. Patients with probable substance use were referred to an on-site social worker for an alcohol, smoking and substance involvement screening test (ASSIST), a brief motivational intervention and referral to specialist care. At the 3-month follow-up, the ASSIST was re-administered telephonically. An intervention was received by 127 patients. A significant reduction in substance use was reported in 92 patients who completed a 3-month follow-up evaluation (p<0.001). Of the 60 patients referred to further care, half entered treatment. We conclude that, with minimal resourcing, it is feasible to administer a brief substance use intervention for patients attending district hospitals.

Authors' affiliations

Katherine Sorsdahl, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town

Dan J Stein, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town

Lize Weich, Department of Psychiatry, University of Stellenbosch

David Fourie, South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA)

Bronwyn Myers, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit, Medical Research Council of South Africa

Full Text



Substance use; Intervention

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2012;102(7):634-635.

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-02-19
Date published: 2012-06-06

Article Views

Abstract views: 2744
Full text views: 4358

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here