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How to train residents to identify and treat dual diagnosis patients.

Medical training has failed to address the needs of patients with comorbid substance use and psychiatric disorders. Addiction teaching is limited and often fails to change the negative attitudes of many physicians. In many psychiatry residencies, addiction training occurs on inpatient or detoxification units and the focus is on screening, detoxification, and referral. Most residents do not gain adequate experience in the long-term management of dual-diagnosis patients. Successful clinical care is based on three critical elements (the "clinician's triad"): an adequate knowledge base, a positive attitude toward the patient and the benefits of treatment, and a sense of responsibility for the clinical problem. The Boston University Psychiatry Residency has designed an addiction training program to address these three issues. In addition to a comprehensive addiction seminar series, there are several unique features. The required clinical rotation occurs in an outpatient dual-diagnosis clinic and permits residents to follow a caseload of patients for 12 months. Extensive experience is gained in motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and pharmacotherapy. Self-directed learning approaches are used to maximize the educational experience on services that lack addiction faculty. Guidelines are provided for establishing a similar program and for more effective approaches to resident teaching.[1]


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