Provision of Mental Health Services as a Quality Indicator for Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities

Published in: Psychiatric Services, v. 66, no. 1, Jan. 2015, p. 41-48

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2014

by Rajeev Ramchand, Beth Ann Griffin, Sarah B. Hunter, Marika Booth, Daniel F. McCaffrey

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OBJECTIVE: The study tested whether adolescents receiving substance abuse treatment at facilities offering full (can treat all psychiatric conditions) or partial (cannot treat severe or persistent mental illness) mental health services have better 12-month substance use and mental health outcomes than youths at facilities with no mental health services. METHODS: Data were collected from 3,235 adolescents who were assessed at baseline and at 12 months at one of 50 adolescent treatment facilities. Propensity scores were applied to compare client outcomes from three types of facilities (full, partial, or no mental health services); weighted linear models were estimated to examine outcomes. RESULTS: Youths attending facilities offering full or partial mental health services had better substance abuse treatment outcomes than youths attending facilities offering no such services. There was no evidence of a difference in substance use outcomes between facilities offering full versus partial services, nor was there evidence of differences in mental health outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary findings suggest that the availability of mental health services may be a useful quality indicator for adolescent substance abuse treatment facilities. More research is needed to examine specific types of mental health services offered at different facilities.

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