DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.31243 ISSN:

Substance Use Disorder Program Availability in Safety-Net and Non–Safety-Net Hospitals in the US

Ji E. Chang, Berkeley Franz, José A. Pagán, Zoe Lindenfeld, Cory E. Cronin
  • General Medicine


Safety-net hospitals (SNHs) are ideal sites to deliver addiction treatment to patients with substance use disorders (SUDs), but the availability of these services within SNHs nationwide remains unknown.


To examine differences in the delivery of different SUD programs in SNHs vs non-SNHs across the US and to determine whether these differences are increased in certain types of SNHs depending on ownership.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This cross-sectional analysis used data from the 2021 American Hospital Association Annual Survey of Hospitals to examine the associations of safety-net status and ownership with the availability of SUD services at acute care hospitals in the US. Data analysis was performed from January to March 2022.

Main Outcomes and Measures

This study used 2 survey questions from the American Hospital Association survey to determine the delivery of 5 hospital-based SUD services: screening, consultation, inpatient treatment services, outpatient treatment services, and medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD).


A total of 2846 hospitals were included: 409 were SNHs and 2437 were non-SNHs. The lowest proportion of hospitals reported offering inpatient treatment services (791 hospitals [27%]), followed by MOUD (1055 hospitals [37%]), and outpatient treatment services (1087 hospitals [38%]). The majority of hospitals reported offering consultation (1704 hospitals [60%]) and screening (2240 hospitals [79%]). In multivariable models, SNHs were significantly less likely to offer SUD services across all 5 categories of services (screening odds ratio [OR], 0.62 [95% CI, 0.48-0.76]; consultation OR, 0.62 [95% CI, 0.47-0.83]; inpatient services OR, 0.73 [95% CI, 0.55-0.97]; outpatient services OR, 0.76 [95% CI, 0.59-0.99]; MOUD OR, 0.6 [95% CI, 0.46-0.78]). With the exception of MOUD, public or for-profit SNHs did not differ significantly from their non-SNH counterparts. However, nonprofit SNHs were significantly less likely to offer all 5 SUD services compared with their non-SNH counterparts (screening OR, 0.52 [95% CI, 0.41-0.66]; consultation OR, 0.56 [95% CI, 0.44-0.73]; inpatient services OR, 0.45 [95% CI, 0.33-0.61]; outpatient services OR, 0.58 [95% CI, 0.44-0.76]; MOUD OR, 0.61 [95% CI, 0.46-0.79]).

Conclusions and Relevance

In this cross-sectional study of SNHs and non-SNHs, SNHs had significantly lower odds of offering the full range of SUD services. These findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that SNHs may face additional barriers to offering SUD programs. Further research is needed to understand these barriers and to identify strategies that support the adoption of evidence-based SUD programs in SNH settings.

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