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
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
Rural Health Equity Research Center
Curt Mueller, Craig Holden, Shena Popat, Alana Knudson