New study aims to improve patient retention rates and outcomes in substance abuse treatment

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC From 2000 to 2015, more than a half million people died from drug overdoses. Many of these individuals tried to recover from their addiction by seeking treatment at specialty addiction programs. Addiction treatment delivery systems in the United States, however, do not always deliver high quality, effective treatment that is tailored to meet each patient’s individual needs.

A new $1.9 million three-year study, led by RTI International and funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), aims to determine whether health systems can improve retention rates of patients in substance abuse treatment and patient outcomes. RTI will evaluate the impact of a systematic approach to comprehensive biopsychosocial patient assessment and addiction treatment matching. An integral component of this project is a patient advisory board, which will ensure that the research is focused the needs and concerns of patients with substance use disorders.

Although addiction treatment can be very effective, patients often do not receive comprehensive assessments and referral to the most appropriate types of addiction treatment modalities and settings,” said Tami Mark, Ph.D., senior director of Behavioral Health Financing at RTI and the project’s principal investigator.  “This study will evaluate whether system-wide adoption of structured assessment protocols and placement criteria helps patients stay in treatment longer and improves their chances of long-term recovery.”  

RTI is partnering on the study with researchers from The University of California, Los Angeles, Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (UCLA ISAP) who have extensive experience researching the California addiction treatment system.

“Research shows effective addiction treatment can reduce morbidity and mortality and improve functioning in key life domains, such as employment and social relationships,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, M.D. “This project has the potential to shape the way we treat people battling addictions in a way that is not only effective but compassionate. We look forward to working with RTI International on this project and are eager to follow the study’s progress.”

RTI’s award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare 

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