Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 40, Issue 12, pp 939–946

The associations between substance use disorders, schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, and Axis IV psychosocial problems

  • Michael T. Compton
  • Paul S. Weiss
  • Joyce C. West
  • Nadine J. Kaslow
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-005-0964-4

Cite this article as:
Compton, M.T., Weiss, P.S., West, J.C. et al. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol (2005) 40: 939. doi:10.1007/s00127-005-0964-4



Substance abuse among individuals with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (SSDs) is associated with a range of adverse psychosocial outcomes in the areas of occupational functioning, housing stability, economic independence, access to health care, and involvement with the legal system. The aim of this study was to estimate the effects of substance use disorders (SUDs), SSDS, and dual diagnosis with both disorders on the risk for six important Axis IV psychosocial problems. This was accomplished using a large dataset of patients who are representative of individuals in routine US psychiatric practice.


Weighted data from the 1999 Study of Psychiatric Patients and Treatments from a practice-based research network of the American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education were analyzed. Some 615 US psychiatrists provided detailed clinical, psychosocial, and health services information on 1,843 patients, including 285 patients with one or more SUDs without an SSD, 180 patients with a diagnosis of an SSD without substance abuse comorbidity, and 68 dually diagnosed patients. Logistic regression models were used to determine effect estimates (adjusted odds ratios), and corresponding 95% confidence intervals were calculated.


After adjusting for sociodemographic variables and for SSD diagnosis, SUD diagnosis was independently associated with increased risk for five of the Axis IV psychosocial problems of interest (occupational problems, housing problems, economic problems, problems with access to health care services, and problems related to interaction with the legal system/crime) when compared to all other psychiatric patients (n=1,310). After adjusting for the sociodemographic variables and for SUD diagnosis, SSD diagnosis (compared to all other psychiatric diagnoses) was associated with Axis IV economic problems, but not with the other five psychosocial problems of interest. The presence of both an SUD and an SSD diagnosis (dual diagnosis) was associated with a greater risk for four of the six Axis IV psychosocial problems studied, compared to the risks associated with either diagnosis alone. Limiting the substance of abuse to alcohol resulted in similar findings.


Although SUDs are associated with increased risk for poor social adjustment, the comorbidity of SUDs and SSDs is associated with greatly compounded psychosocial burdens. These findings, from a large sample of representative US psychiatric patients, demonstrate the ongoing need for improved services and policies for those specially burdened patients with the dual diagnosis of both an SSD and substance abuse or dependence.

Key words

schizophrenia substance abuse dual diagnosis comorbidity axis IV psychosocial problems 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T. Compton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paul S. Weiss
    • 3
  • Joyce C. West
    • 4
  • Nadine J. Kaslow
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Dept. of PsychiatryGrady Memorial HospitalAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Dept. of BiostatisticsRollins School of Public Health of Emory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.American Psychiatric Practice Research NetworkAmerican Psychiatric Institute for Research and EducationArlingtonUSA

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