Cathy Kelleher

Cathy is a research analyst with the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS), the national surveillance database on treated problem drug and alcohol use in Ireland. Established in 1990, the NDTRS is maintained by the Health Research Board (HRB) on behalf of the Department of Health in Ireland. Prior to joining the HRB, Cathy worked in higher education, and conducted social and educational research in various capacities. Cathy is commencing doctoral research in Public Health and Primary Care under the supervision of Professor Jo-Hanna Ivers at the School of Medicine in Trinity College Dublin. The research will involve the secondary analysis of NDTRS data to examine patterns and trends in substance use based on self-defined sexuality and gender.

Characteristics of concerned persons accessing addiction treatment services in their own right: A secondary analysis of existing Irish health data for 2010-2020

Aims Persons significantly involved in the lives of those with addictions’ ‘often endure considerable stress, without recognition and at great personal cost. Concerned persons are key in prevention, treatment, and recovery from addictions, yet little is known about their characteristics. The aim of this study, therefore, was to describe concerned persons accessing addiction services for personal support, in order to inform measures to address the needs of this population nationally and internationally. This is the first known study to use routine surveillance data to characterise concerned persons.
Methods Secondary analysis of data from an Irish national health surveillance system was conducted to describe cases from 2010-2020. Variables of interest, including demographics, were analysed descriptively for all cases assessed for treatment (n=13,744). Where available (2016-2020), treatment variables were analysed (n=3,703). Limitations of the design were considered, including possible selection bias in case recording.
Results Concerned persons cases were mostly female (77.2%, 10,611) and aged 45-64 years (38.9%, 5,353). Cases were mainly living in stable accommodation (96.0%, 13,198) and with partner/children (39.5%, 5,428). Most cases were assessed in outpatient services (76.1%, 10,466). Treated cases mainly received individual counselling (37.3%, 1,383) and brief intervention (36.8%, 1,363). Children accounted for 6.0% (818) of cases.
Conclusions This research provided valuable insights into a population that is often overlooked. The knowledge generated can complement findings from primary research, including population health surveys. There is scope to expand routine monitoring to include further data on concerned persons seeking support and supporting others through addiction treatment.