The co-occurrence of HIV infection, chemical dependency, and mental illness challenges federal and state governments to develop flexible and coordinated health policy and financing for public health services. State agencies play a critical role in the organization and support of these services at the local level. With emerging stress upon state government budgets and concomitant increasing need for publicly funded services, state agency coordination may be an important policy safety net to assure services for populations at the margins of health systems. Despite this important potential role, nothing is known about the degree to which state HIV, substance abuse, and mental health agencies coordinate policies and/or programs in response to these co-morbid conditions. Objective. This study sought to establish a conservative and initial understanding of state HIV, substance abuse, and mental health agency coordination of policy and program in response to the co-occurrence of HIV, chemical dependency, and mental illness. Method. Estimation of coordination was accomplished through the comparison of three surveys conducted among state substance abuse directors (1998), state AIDS directors (1999), and state mental health directors (2000). Data from 38 states were reviewed. Results. The most frequently reported state agency activities included coordinating funding, engaging in integrative planning activities, and conducting staff cross-training. When compared for association with state characteristics, coordination among state agencies was found to be associated with Early Intervention Services (EIS) designation, higher rates of AIDS generally, higher rates of AIDS among African Americans, and higher rates of AIDS among Hispanic populations. Given the limitations of comparing three disparate surveys, we determined the estimate of interagency coordination to be conservative and preliminary. Conclusion. While this study was useful as an initial step toward identifying state interagency policy and program coordination in response to the co-occurrence of HIV, chemical dependency, and mental illness, there were methodological challenges that should be addressed in future studies of state agency coordination. Several recommendations were advanced.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health