Treating equivalent cases differently: A comparative analysis of substance use disorder and type 2 diabetes in Norwegian treatment guidelines
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonJournal of Evaluation In Clinical Practice. 2022. 10.1111/jep.13693
Background Substance use disorder (SUD) is often understood as a chronic illness. Aims: This paper investigates whether SUD is treated as a chronic illness. Method To this aim, we have used World Health Organizations (WHO's) definition of chronic illness to conduct a comparative analysis of SUD and type 2 diabetes (T2D), which is another chronic illness. Results When analysing Norwegian treatment guidelines, we found that only the T2D guideline reflects the WHO's conceptualization of chronic illnesses. We argue that this discrepancy implies that SUD is understood as a moral and legal problem, while T2D is conceptualized as a somatic illness. We discuss how social, political and historical conditions of the possibility for understanding SUD are interwoven with normative presumptions about the clinician, patient, treatment guidelines and drug policies in a way that may impede the development of continuing care. Conclusion The paper concludes that the delivery of treatment services is inequitable as SUD is not treated as a chronic illness.