Matching Clients' Needs with Drug Treatment Services

Published in: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, v. 16, no. 4, June 1999, p. 299-305

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1998

by Yih-Ing Hser, Margaret L. Polinsky, Margaret A. Maglione, M. Douglas Anglin

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This paper reports results of a study that investigated whether matching drug treatment services with client needs improved outcomes for a sample of 171 clients who participated in community-based drug treatment programs. Clients were initially assessed on multiple problem areas (alcohol use, drug use, medical, psychological, family/social, legal, employment, housing) and on areas of special needs or stated preferences for services (e.g., transportation, child care, language). A 6-month follow-up interview reassessed clients' problems/needs in all areas and collected information on the services received. The results showed that some services significantly improved client outcome for those who had expressed needs for such services. Notably, services meeting the need for vocational training, child care, transportation, and housing showed beneficial effects. A higher level of needs and services matching (defined either by the ratio of services received to services desired, or by the total level of met versus unmet needs in the eight problem areas) significantly predicted longer treatment retention.

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