Outcome Measurement: Challenges for a small residential treatment provider

April 28, 2017

The 4th Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference is on next month at the Mantra on View Hotel, Gold Coast over the 15th – 17th May.

Confirmed Keynotes Include:

  • Associate Professor Petra Staiger, School of Psychology, Deakin University
  • Professor Olaf Drummer, Deputy Director Academic Programs, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine
  • Professor Michael Farrell, Director, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
  • Dr Andrew Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney
  • Professor Murat Yucel, Head of Addiction Program of Research, Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences (MICCN), Monash University
  • Talitha Cummins, Journalist, Newsreader, Speaker & Advocate for change
  • Ms Sally McCarthy, Clinical Director, Emergency Care Institute NSW
  • Dr Tim MacDonald, Psychiatrist, Healthe Care

Mr Leon Soste, Board member at Teen Challenge Victoria joins us next month to discuss ‘Outcome Measurement: Challenges for a small residential treatment provider’.

Teen Challenge Victoria began working with addicts in 1974.  The program provides residential treatment for adult males at Kyabram.  Treatment outcomes are unreported, something which the Board seeks to remedy.  This paper explores the challenges of outcome measurement and reporting in a small operation where poly-substance and/or alcohol use, sexual abuse and associated mental illness are the norm; level of engagement with (and length of stay in) the program is volitional; and the exit environment is uncontrolled.

The paper characterizes the incoming student cohort; defines treatment aims; articulates the treatment model; and provides an overview of program operation.  It discusses critical questions of: What do we want to measure?  Why?  How will data be collected?  To whom are we reporting?  It reviews recommended outcome measures; some of the major instruments; identifies ATOP as the most appropriate; and discusses selection rationale.  (The proposal will be externally reviewed to ensure that data can be used by interested research groups).  It assesses the goodness-of-fit between stated treatment and reporting goals and the information provided by ATOP, and then identifies further research questions.

These cluster around the influence of incoming characteristics (substance-use history; mental illness); aspects of treatment operation (willingness to engage; student-mentor relationship; the importance of community); and factors enhancing post-treatment recovery (sense of intrinsic self-worth, meaning and hope; non-enabling support networks; development of self-management and stress management skills).  These questions extend well beyond what is captured by ATOP.  They provide a segue into the generic question of: Having satisfied the basic reporting requirements of government and funders (change in substance-use; increase in public safety; contribution to society); how do we measure the importance of (non)treatment factors to sustainable recovery?  The paper closes with implementation challenges, a summary of what ATOP does (not) deliver, additional research questions and a plea for research collaboration.

For more information on the upcoming 2017 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference and to secure your spot, please visit addictionaustralia.org.au.

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