Employing Continuous Quality Improvement in Community-Based Substance Abuse Programs

Published In: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, v. 25, no. 7, 2012, p. 604-617

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by Matthew Chinman, Sarah B. Hunter, Patricia A. Ebener

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PURPOSE: This article aims to describe continuous quality improvement (CQI) for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs in a community-based organization setting. DESIGN/METHODLOGY/APPROACH: CQI (e.g., plan-do-study-act cycles (PDSA)) applied in healthcare and industry was adapted for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs in a community setting. The authors assessed the resources needed, acceptability and CQI feasibility for ten programs by evaluating CQI training workshops with program staff and a series of three qualitative interviews over a nine-month implementation period with program participants. The CQI activities, PDSA cycle progress, effort, enthusiasm, benefits and challenges were examined. FINDINGS: Results indicated that CQI was feasible and acceptable for community-based substance abuse prevention and treatment programs; however, some notable resource challenges remain. Future studies should examine CQI impact on service quality and intended program outcomes. RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS: The study was conducted on a small number of programs. It did not assess CQI impact on service quality and intended program outcomes. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: This project shows that it is feasible to adapt CQI techniques and processes for community-based programs substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. These techniques may help community-based program managers to improve service quality and achieve program outcomes. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: This is one of the first studies to adapt traditional CQI techniques for community-based settings delivering substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.

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