Strategies to support substance use disorder care transitions from acute-care to community-based settings: a scoping review and typology

Noa Krawczyk, Bianca D. Rivera, Ji E. Chang, Margaux Grivel, Yu Heng Chen, Suhas Nagappala, Honora Englander, Jennifer McNeely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Acute-care interventions that identify patients with substance use disorders (SUDs), initiate treatment, and link patients to community-based services, have proliferated in recent years. Yet, much is unknown about the specific strategies being used to support continuity of care from emergency department (ED) or inpatient hospital settings to community-based SUD treatment. In this scoping review, we synthesize the existing literature on patient transition interventions, and form an initial typology of reported strategies. Methods: We searched Pubmed, Embase, CINAHL and PsychINFO for peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and 2021 that studied interventions linking patients with SUD from ED or inpatient hospital settings to community-based SUD services. Eligible articles measured at least one post-discharge treatment outcome and included a description of the strategy used to promote linkage to community care. Detailed information was extracted on the components of the transition strategies and a thematic coding process was used to categorize strategies into a typology based on shared characteristics. Facilitators and barriers to transitions of care were synthesized using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. Results: Forty-five articles met inclusion criteria. 62% included ED interventions and 44% inpatient interventions. The majority focused on patients with opioid (71%) or alcohol (31%) use disorder. The transition strategies reported across studies were heterogeneous and often not well described. An initial typology of ten transition strategies, including five pre- and five post-discharge transition strategies is proposed. The most common strategy was scheduling an appointment with a community-based treatment provider prior to discharge. A range of facilitators and barriers were described, which can inform efforts to improve hospital-to-community transitions of care. Conclusions: Strategies to support transitions from acute-care to community-based SUD services, although critical for ensuring continuity of care, vary greatly across interventions and are inconsistently measured and described. More research is needed to classify SUD care transition strategies, understand their components, and explore which lead to the best patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number67
JournalAddiction Science and Clinical Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Acute-care
  • Care navigation
  • Care transitions
  • Emergency department
  • Hospital
  • Interventions
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Treatment
  • Warm handoff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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