Patients trained to manage their healthcare may have better outcomes

Science Spotlight

June 22, 2016 

Research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveals that teaching patients in addiction treatment how to communicate with physicians, and providing training on using an electronic health records portal, empowers them to better engage in their health management. This in turn may increase the likelihood that they will refrain from using drugs and alcohol, and remain in addiction treatment longer.

In this six-month study, about half of the patients were assigned to LINKAGE, a program which provided health information, guidance on how to effectively communicate with healthcare providers, and training in the patient portal. The remaining participants were given Usual Care, which provided information on medical problems associated with alcohol and other drug use. All participants received standard treatment, including medical exams, detoxification, therapy groups, individual counseling, and 12-step meetings. LINKAGE, compared to Usual Care participants, logged into the portal more often, sent more messages to their primary care providers, viewed test results more often, and were more likely to discuss alcohol and other drug use with their primary care physicians. Patients participating in all six LINKAGE sessions had higher portal use, increased abstinence, and longer time in addiction treatment, compared to those who participated in fewer sessions. More research is needed to see if these benefits extend past six months.

For a copy of the abstract, “Examination of the Effects of an Intervention Aiming to Link Patients Receiving Addiction Treatment With Health Care The LINKAGE Clinical Trial,” published in JAMA Psychiatry, go to

To find additional resources for addiction treatment patients, go to: Tools designed specifically for use by healthcare providers can be found

For more information, contact the NIDA press office or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA onTwitter and Facebook.

NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests Online ordering is available NIDA’s media guide can be found, and its easy-to-read website can be found You can follow NIDA onTwitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit