Drivers of Continued Implementation of Cultural Competence in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Published in: Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 105, pages 5–11 (October 2019). doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2019.07.009

Posted on on April 29, 2020

by Erick G. Guerrero, Tenie Khachikian, Jemima A. Frimpong, Yinfei Kong, Daniel L. Howard, Sarah B. Hunter

Read More

Access further information on this document at Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

The purpose of this study was to examine whether the key characteristics of organizational decision makers predicted continued implementation of five different practices that represent organizational cultural competence in one of the largest and most diverse substance use disorder (SUD) treatment systems in the United States. We analyzed data collected from SUD treatment programs at four-time points: 2011 (N = 115), 2013 (N = 111), 2015 (N = 106), and 2017 (N = 94). We conducted five mixed-effect linear regression models, one per each outcome to examine the extent to which program director's transformational leadership and ethnic background (Latino) predicted (1) knowledge of minority community needs; (2) development of resources and linkages to serve minorities; (3) reaching out to minority communities; (4) hiring and retention of staff members from minority backgrounds; and (5) development of policies and procedures to effectively respond to the service needs of minority patients. Results show that two of the five practices continued implementation at same degree (resources and linkages and policies and procedures), one practice increased degree of implementation (knowledge), while two practices reduced degree of implementation (staffing and outreach to communities) over the six-year period. Directorial leadership was positively associated with the continued implementation of all five practices. Latino directors were associated with an increase in knowledge of minority communities, but a decrease in resources and linkages and policies and procedures to serve minorities. On the other hand, interactions showed that leadership among Latino directors increased staffing over time and led to increases in resources and linkages and policies and procedures overtime. Overall, continued implementation of culturally responsive practices was uneven in the SUD treatment system studied. But program directors' transformational leadership and ethnic background played a critical role in increasing the implementation of key practices over time. Findings have implications for developing and testing culturally grounded leadership interventions for program directors to ensure the continued and increased implementation of practices that are necessary to improve standards of care in minority health.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.