A qualitative study of referring agents’ perceptions of access barriers to inpatient substance abuse treatment centres in the Western Cape
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Background: Despite empirical support for the individual and public health benefits of treating substance use disorders (SUDs) , access to these services is impeded by several barriers. Although many studies on access barriers have been put forward in the literature, few have explored the barriers to accessing state-funded inpatient substance abuse treatment or the views of referral agents. Methods: A qualitative study was conducted to explore referring agents’ perceptions of the barriers to accessing state-funded inpatient substance abuse treatment centres in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Six individual in-depth interviews were conducted and analysed using theoretical thematic analysis. Results: The key barriers to emerge from the analysis pertained to referring agents’ perceptions of the following: service users, the substance abuse referral and treatment system and community dynamics. Conclusions: Recommendations are made for interventions to address the identified barriers.