Emergency Department Visits in a Cohort of Persons with Substance Use: Incorporating the Role of Social Networks

Paul Sacamano, Noa Krawczyk, Carl A Latkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Frequent emergency department (ED) visits often suggest inappropriate use for low acuity needs and multiple comorbidities, including substance use disorders. Objective: This study examines associations of individuals and their social networks with high frequency ED use among persons reporting substance use. Methods: Information was obtained from interview responses from the first 6-month follow-up visit of a longitudinal. Prevalence ratios for the outcome of high frequency ED visits (≥2 in 6 months) were determined with a generalized linear model, log link, Poisson distribution and robust standard errors. Results: Of 653 participants, 131 (20%) had ≥2 ED visits. In multivariable analysis, greater likelihood of high frequency ED visits over 6 months was associated with being homeless (PR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.19, 2.10), taking ≥3 medications (PR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.19, 2.10) and having had a hospitalization over the same period (PR: 4.33; 95% CI: 3.26, 7.56). Among social network factors, lower likelihood of high frequency visits was associated with each increasing year of mean alter age (PR: 0.98; 95% CI: 0.6, 0.99) and greater likelihood with having received health-related informational support from ≥2 alters (PR: 1.62; 95% CI: 1.04, 2.53). Conclusions/Importance: Social network factors may play an important role in ED use. Interventions to promote health behaviors through social influence may be helpful in reducing high frequency ED visits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 19 2018


  • ego networks
  • Emergency department use
  • social support
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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