Title

A cluster randomized trial of an organizational linkage intervention for offenders with substance use disorders: study protocol.

Document Type

Article, Non peer-reviewed

Publication Date

10-13-2014

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Substance use disorders are highly prevalent in community correctional populations, yet these settings frequently are ill-equipped to identify and refer offenders to community-based treatment services. In particular, community corrections staff are often opposed to the use of medication in addiction treatment because of inadequate knowledge, resources, and organizational structures to facilitate client linkages to evidence-based services. METHODS/DESIGN: Each of the NIDA-funded Research Centers recruited 2 criminal justice agencies to participate in the study. Eligibility rules required study sites that were focused on community corrections (i.e., probation or parole), had few or no formal relationships with treatment providers for referring clients to medication-assisted treatment, and had no state or local policies prohibiting such relationships. Sites under the oversight of the same parent agency were eligible only if they were in geographically distinct catchment areas, and could be assigned to different study arms without cross-contamination at any level. The 18 clusters consisted of community corrections officers and their offender caseloads nested within agencies, each of which was partnered with at least one community-based substance abuse treatment program. Randomization was blocked by Research Center, within which one cluster was randomly assigned to a training-only condition (comparison) and the other to training followed by a strategic organizational linkage process (intervention). Line staff received a scientifically-grounded, systematically-delivered training session that addresses gaps in existing knowledge, perceptions, and information about medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and local availability of MAT services. Key decision-makers subsequently were asked to collaborate in a strategic planning process to enhance formal and informal linkages between criminal justice agencies and local MAT providers. It was hypothesized that the two implementation intervention components together would be more likely than staff training alone to improve the process of referring opioid- and alcohol-dependent adults under community supervision to appropriate addiction pharmacotherapy. Outcomes were measured at the client (referrals), line staff (attitudes), and organizational (linkage) levels. DISCUSSION: Through closer collaboration among criminal justice agencies and treatment providers, improved linkages to effective substance abuse treatment should yield significant clinical, public health and public safety benefits.

PMID

25309847

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