Factors Associated With Lengths-of-Stay for Inpatients With Substance Use Disorders


This policy brief identifies factors associated with inpatient length-of-stay (LOS) for the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) and whether there are systematic differences in LOS for rural and urban residents.

Key Findings:

  • Inpatient LOS for SUD treatment were longer for rural residents using urban hospitals than rural residents using rural hospitals.
  • LOS were longer for patients who resided in mental health professional shortage areas and in areas with fewer buprenorphine waivered physicians.
  • Medicare patients had longer hospital stays than similar patients without Medicare when holding other factors constant, including patient age, and the presence of other SUD, mental, and chronic conditions.
  • Medicaid LOS differed between states, but more research is needed to understand how the federal-state cost-sharing structure affects the availability and effectiveness of outpatient and inpatient treatment for SUD.
Rural Health Equity Research Center
Curt Mueller, Craig Holden, Shena Popat, Alana Knudson