The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) has begun gathering data for its new outcomes research pilot project, from nine participating treatment centers across the U.S.
The NAATP study will be the first to combine data from nonprofit and for-profit centers with the same protocol across all sites, each with different census capacities and research abilities, according to Jessica Swan, NAATP’s outcomes and surveys manager.
“There are many federal government funded studies through National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that provide relevant research from many programs; however, they have different funding streams,” Swan told The Influence.
NAATP Executive Director Marvin Ventrell said the study is an important one for the treatment profession because “we have not done enough to authenticate our treatment outcomes and our value in general.”
“We really do see this as a historic study,” Ventrell told Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly. “The (survey) instrument itself is very progressive in its understanding of what treatment and recovery look like — it’s not judgmental or ideological, and it neither undervalues nor overvalues abstinence as a measure.”
The fact that NAATP, and not individual programs or payers, is sponsoring the study is also significant, he said.
To ensure the study will be rigorous, the NAATP arranged for independent, Instutional Review Board (IRB) oversight. An IRB is a committee that has been designated to approve, monitor and review biomedical and behavioral human subjects research. It protects the rights and welfare of human subjects, and it also ensures fidelity of data, important to the credibility of any study, Swan said.
“In addition to the IRB, we have a COC, a Certificate of Confidentiality, from the NIH. This provides participants with another level of assurance to their confidentiality in their answers. Researchers and data cannot be subpoenaed by courts to provide information as to the answers provided in the study.”
Gathering accurate data on substance abuse treatment outcomes has historically posed a challenge for researchers. One is that because addiction is a disease of denial, treatment program “graduates” might not always give truthful answers about their continued sobriety. How will NAATP ensure the veracity of the answers?
“This is a social science study that relies on self-reporting,” Swan said. “Generally speaking, self-reporting is considered reliable in research. There may be some factors that improve veracity, such as who is asking the questions to the participant.”
Nine NAATP members are serving as the pilot sites: Addiction Recovery Resources (Metairie, La.), Ashley Addiction Treatment (Havre de Grace, Md.), Caron Treatment Centers (Wernersville, Pa.), Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation (Center City, Minn.), Jaywalker Lodge (Carbondale, Col.), New Directions for Women (Costa Mesa, Ca.), Seabrook House (Bridgeton, N.J.), Sundown M Ranch (Selah,Wash.) and Tully Hill Chemical Dependency Treatment Center (Tully, N.Y.).
Outcome influences will be measured including:
- Detoxification process
- Patient engagement
- Psychological and psychiatric care
- Education and addiction counseling received
- Peer and family support
- 12-step activity
All nine organizations will use the same data-collection tools, and administer the three surveys in the same way using a common data-collection system. While each provider may be offering different kinds of care — some may offer opioid substitution medication and some may not, for example — those different types of treatment will also be measured, Swan said.
The NAATP provider model has inpatient treatment in common, with inpatient treatment being measured from the date of intake at 30-day, 90-day, 6-month, 9-month and 1-year follow-ups.
A total of 748 participants began the study. Data collection for the pilot program ends in April. NAATP plans to present its initial finds at its 40th Anniversary National Addiction Treatment Conference in May, Swan said.