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6 Findings and Recommendations The committee's review of current research, models for collaboration between research and practice, community-based organizations, and dissemination strategies led to findings and recommendations in six areas: (1) strategies for linking research and practice, (2) strategies for linking research findings, policy development, and implementation, (3) strategies for knowledge development, (4) strategies for dissemination and knowledge transfer, (5) strategies for consumer participation, and (6) training strategies for community-based research collaboration. The committee believes that attention to its recommendations will lead to improvements in clinical practices and will enhance the value of treatment research to clinicians, investigators, policymakers, clients, and to the general public. STRATEGIES FOR LINKING RESEARCH AND PRACTICE The committee found some striking examples of strong collaborations between community-based drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs and academic research institutions. It was apparent, however, that relatively few investigators work closely with community treatment programs and even fewer programs participate actively in research. Treatment programs benefit from being part of a learning culture that, among other characteristics, values knowledge development and hypothesis testing. Research collaboration can provide tangible and intangible benefits that improve an agency's competitive position—enhanced information systems, education and mentoring for clinical staff, contributions to overhead
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costs, access to state-of-the-art treatment interventions, staff pride, and more informed consumers. Research participation becomes a possibility for treatment providers when community-based organizations are compensated for the true costs of research participation, and when program staff and investigators collaborate in construction of hypotheses, research design, and data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Only a small proportion of community-based agencies currently have the capacity to participate fully in long-term partnerships with teams of investigators. The level of participation in research collaborations depends on an agency's stage of organizational development, the compatibility of the studies with the organization's mission and culture, and its financial stability. Thus, participation may vary from relatively passive participation (completing surveys and submitting data to state databases) to involvement as a partner in the development of research questions, data collection, and data interpretation. However, incentives must change for all parties if real progress is to be made. The trust necessary for long-term collaboration is generally based on a history of increasing involvement. Successful collaborative programs from other health fields include support for a permanent infrastructure that facilitates long-term development. The National Cancer Institute's Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) uses this strategy to bring state-of-the-art oncology research to community-based cancer treatment programs. CCOP facilitates research collaborations and enhances the ability of treatment programs to apply research findings to the general patient population. Development of a similar mechanism for use in community-based drug abuse treatment programs could catalyze research/practice collaborations and stimulate improvements in practice. The CCOPs are not inexpensive and they present a significant managerial challenge. The infrastructure alone at each clinical site can exceed $200,000. However, the infrastructure recommendation that follows does not necessarily require a model with that complexity. It could begin as a demonstration project involving a basic infrastructure enhancement of perhaps one full-time equivalent staff person and some computer support to a small set of diverse treatment sites. This level of support would be the target, whichever of the various network collaboration models is finally implemented. Based on these findings, the committee offers two recommendations and identifies certain key characteristics that will facilitate their successful implementation.
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RECOMMENDATION 1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment should support the development of an infrastructure to facilitate research within a network of community-based treatment programs, similar to the National Cancer Institute's Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) networks. To be successful, the infrastructure and network development will depend on commitment from the community-based treatment programs and researchers. Certain key areas will need to be addressed to foster partnership. For the community-based treatment programs, these include: encouraging and, when appropriate, participating in biomedical, social-behavioral, treatment effectiveness, and services research; seeking collaboration with researchers to build information systems that enhance the delivery of clinical services, improve program management and operations, and contribute to research databases; enhancing quality improvement strategies and fostering the development of organizational learning; and promoting staff education on current research and creating strategies to encourage adoption of clinical protocols that hold promise to improve treatment services. Likewise, for treatment researchers, the following approaches are suggested: encouraging and, when appropriate, seeking collaborative opportunities with community-based drug treatment organizations (CBOs); recognizing the burdens of research on programs and consumers and providing fair compensation for the time and resources required to participate in studies; remaining sensitive to any potential their work has to harm consumers or treatment programs; guarding against the misuse of their research findings and the findings of other researchers in the development of funding and regulatory policies and the design of clinical protocols; supporting, through their work and their policy participation, consumer education on state-of-the-art clinical services; and recognizing the value of consumer participation by providing information accessible to consumers about the benefits of research, by including consumers on study advisory groups and by integrating informed consumer opinion in research proposals and study designs.
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RECOMMENDATION 2. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism should develop research initiatives to foster studies that include community-based treatment programs as full partners. Issues to be addressed by these initiatives are: including representatives from the treatment community in the development of the research initiative and in the review of proposals; showing sensitivity to the needs and constraints of community-based programs; requiring, in the proposal, an assessment of the study's burden and impact on the treatment program and its clients, as well as its potential relevance and practicality for CBO implementation; requiring active, early, and permanent participation of treatment staff in the development, implementation, and interpretation of the study; emphasizing the consideration of gender, gender identity, race, and urban/rural issues in research priorities; and providing a rapid funding mechanism to promote small research projects on emerging issues affecting treatment (e.g., managed care, welfare reform, performance measurement). STRATEGIES FOR LINKING RESEARCH FINDINGS, POLICY DEVELOPMENT, AND TREATMENT IMPLEMENTATION State and federal policies sometimes hinder the diffusion of knowledge flowing from research relevant to drug abuse treatment. Selective prohibitions on the use of state and federal funds can inhibit the application of proven research findings. Language in the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, for example, prohibits the use of federal funds for needle exchange, despite studies demonstrating this improves the effectiveness of outreach to the population at highest risk for HIV infection. A similar restriction on the use of funds for client payments inhibits the implementation of behavioral reinforcement strategies. Local laws and policies restrict the development and operation of methadone services. Moreover, state and federal officials have generally not used funding mechanisms to facilitate collaboration between treatment programs and researchers, to foster adoption of new and effective treatments, or to improve the design of clinical research. The committee believes that the coordination of state and federal programs is important to facilitate active collaboration and improvement of drug and alcohol treatment. Two recommendations are offered emphasizing the role of states in this collaboration, accompanied by approaches to undergird needed support.
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RECOMMENDATION 3. State authorities should provide financial incentives for collaborative investigations between CBOs and academically oriented research centers; and should support structures to foster broad participation among researchers, practitioners, consumers, and payers in the development of a treatment research agenda, including studies to measure outcomes and program operations. RECOMMENDATION 4. CSAT and the states need to cooperate in the development of financial incentives that encourage the inclusion of proven treatment approaches into community-based treatment programs. This approach should include making additional funds available for implementing targeted treatment approaches. To improve treatment, the following are considered critical areas to address: Creating mechanisms to ensure the adoption of treatments proven to be effective and development of requests for proposals that support implementations of specific treatments within local community-based settings. Supporting the development of management information systems within community-based drug treatment programs, including consultation for system planning. These data systems should not be a one-way conduit to a state database but should also provide information to the treatment programs in a usable format and become the basis of public reports on outcomes. Expanding researcher, provider, and consumer participation in the development of licensing standards, staff development requirements, and initiatives to enhance consumer participation. State licensing standards provide the basis for monitoring treatment outcomes and processes and for managing progress toward desired patient outcomes. The best staff development standards require ongoing staff training and education (e.g., through publications, seminars, enrollment in continuing education, and attendance at training sessions that disseminate information on emerging developments in clinical care). Consumer participation standards provide consumers with information on state-of-the-art treatment techniques, and outcomes measurement systems are best developed with input from families and patients.
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STRATEGIES FOR KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT Drug and alcohol abuse treatment providers were often critical of treatment research. At the same time, there was considerable support for collaborating on research projects that had immediate application to problems faced in patient care. Practitioners and policymakers requested more research on treatment effectiveness—studies that help programs operate more effectively and identify interventions that serve clients more effectively. The committee's findings suggest that expanding the range of studied treatment settings, treatment modalities, and treatment populations may result in more broadly applicable treatment research findings. These observations led the committee to make two specific recommendations in this area. RECOMMENDATION 5. CSAT and NIDA should develop mechanisms to enable state policymakers to monitor service delivery in community-based treatment programs and to determine if consumers receive services empirically demonstrated as effective and to ascertain if the treatment dosage and intensity are sufficient to be effective. RECOMMENDATION 6. NIDA and NIAAA should continue to support ''real world" services research and cost-effectiveness studies and include the development of services research in their strategic plans. STRATEGIES FOR DISSEMINATION AND KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER The committee found at least four factors that inhibit diffusion of drug abuse treatment knowledge: (1) the structure of treatment delivery systems; (2) the diversity of the clients, providers, and other stakeholders; (3) the stigmatization of people who are dependent on alcohol and other drugs; and (4) an inadequate base of knowledge about technology transfer specific to the field. Differences in perspective among consumers, clinicians, researchers, and policymakers also inhibit knowledge dissemination and use. While there is a general knowledge base about technology transfer, there has been little research on information exchange in the drug abuse treatment field. Research findings about technology transfer specific to drug abuse treatment are needed to help overcome the critical barriers to information exchange and reduce the knowledge gaps in this field. Treatment programs are underutilizing research findings in the area of
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psychosocial interventions, pharmacotherapy, and integrated service delivery approaches. Several approaches have been shown in other fields to successfully close the gaps between treatment, research, and policy and there are models that could be applied more widely in the future. Because providers and payers are often unaware of the latests research, the committee found a pressing need to create consensus in the field about which treatments have been proven to be effective and which have been proven to be ineffective. Further, the research agendas of the federal agencies should continue to be fueled by agreement in the field on which models have not received adequate study. The fruits of this consensus process should be widely distributed. Key to improving knowledge dissemination will be cooperation and collaboration across federal agencies, states, professional organizations, and consumer groups, among others. The committee recommends two general approaches to establish the needed collaboration. RECOMMENDATION 7. CSAT, NIDA, NIAAA, and AHCPR are the federal agencies that should develop formal collaborations, where appropriate, to synthesize research, reduce the barriers to knowledge transfer, and provide updated information about drug and alcohol treatment strategies to purchasers of health care. A variety of approaches could be utilized to accomplish these goals. For example, expert panels of investigators, practitioners, program administrators, policymakers, and consumers could be convened by NIDA, NIAAA, and CSAT to generate up-to-date consensus recommendations for community-based drug and alcohol treatment programs based on current research. NIDA-, NIAAA-, and AHCPR-sponsored research on drug treatment knowledge dissemination would help to reduce barriers to the transfer of treatment knowledge and encourage treatment programs and policymakers to adopt proven treatments. Research findings need to be prepared in a form, and disseminated within channels, that enhance availability and acceptability to community-based treatment programs—especially front-line treatment staff. Continued support for and improvement of electronic and print publications directed to treatment programs and consumers is necessary; and other media, such as public access television, should be considered. CSAT, NIDA, and NIAAA also have an important role in the development of information to enable purchasers of care to take research findings into account explicitly in making purchasing decisions. At the same time, purchasers should develop treatment criteria that ensure treatments of proven effectiveness are adequately funded and should consider withholding funding when the science base shows the treatment to be unequivocally ineffective.
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RECOMMENDATION 8. CSAT, in collaboration with state substance abuse authorities, professional organizations, and consumer organizations in the addiction field, should continue the development of evidence-based treatment recommendations for use by clinicians of all disciplines involved in the treatment of drug and alcohol use disorders. To ensure that these treatment recommendations have a positive impact on health care, these agencies and groups should work to encourage their use. Measurement of the impact of guidelines on clinical care delivery will optimally include short-, intermediate-, and long-term treatment outcomes. STRATEGIES FOR CONSUMER PARTICIPATION Consumers are rarely involved in the issues of how drug abuse treatment research is supported and conducted. Although many community-based treatment programs were founded by men and women in recovery and counselors in recovery make up a significant portion of the workforce, there are few advocacy groups for patients and their families. In view of the stigma and legal hazards attached to illicit drug abuse, the reluctance to advocate is understandable but unfortunate. Consumer advocacy for state-of-the-art services has improved care for individuals with cancer and with HIV/AIDS. Drug abuse treatment may enjoy similar benefits if drug treatment consumers become informed consumer advocates. RECOMMENDATION 9. CSAT and NIDA, in collaboration with state substance abuse authorities, should develop public awareness programs to encourage consumers and their families to recognize high-quality treatment programs so they will begin to demand that treatment programs include research-proven treatment approaches within their treatment models. There are a variety of approaches that can be considered by these groups to accomplish this goal. These include: Encouraging provider quality scorecard development to assure that consumer-oriented quality and satisfaction data, including shortand long-term data, are available to the public. Scorecard development is an early stage but growing movement in health care generally and could provide useful information about community-based treatment programs. Reviewing and updating the formats and content of communication vehicles to assure that treatment and research information is accessible to consumers and to the community-based treatment organizations.
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It is also critically important that representatives of consumers and their families, with the support and assistance of the research, treatment, and policy communities, promote local as well as national advocacy groups to work with state funding agencies, insurers, managed care organizations, and self-insured employers to encourage the use of valid and reliable measures of treatment outcomes. Such measures serve as a basis for evaluating the efficacy of specific treatment modalities and the cost effectiveness of treatment programs, individual treatment providers and networks of care. State and federal government and employers and purchasing alliances could then be encouraged to use these data to inform their health care purchasing and contracting decisions. Consumer groups should also advocate for the development of standards of care in community-based clinics, treatment networks, integrated delivery systems, and managed care networks. Such standards could be used in accreditation of treatment programs and are best if based on findings from clinical research as well as broadly accepted clinical consensus. TRAINING STRATEGIES FOR COMMUNITY-BASED RESEARCH COLLABORATION Research collaboration, especially collaboration in services research, requires skills and knowledge not generally provided in most graduate training programs. In order to foster collaborative research, it is necessary to enhance these skills in the next generation of drug abuse researchers. At the same time, despite the plethora of prior recommendations for addressing this problem, clinical training programs often fail to provide the background and orientation for treatment research. Thus, both clinical and research training programs need to be more attentive to the need for collaboration to improve treatment in this field. The committee made three recommendations specific to preparing trainees for active participation in clinical research studies. RECOMMENDATION 10. NIDA and other research funding agencies should support predoctoral and postdoctoral research training programs that provide experience in drug abuse treatment research and health services research within community-based treatment programs. Programs funded should have the full and active participation of community-based treatment programs and should include resources to fund the costs of participation for the treatment programs.
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RECOMMENDATION 11. University training programs in the health professions should: • enhance exposure of students to didactic teaching about substance abuse and dependence; • require didactic teaching as well as supervised clinical experiences in community-based treatment settings; • teach students to interpret substance abuse treatment research and apply research findings in their clinical practices; • work with professional organizations to enhance continuing education about the addictions within the residency training curriculum of the various health professions; and • support researchers seeking to enhance collaborative relationships with treatment programs by offering tuition credit for CBO staff involved in funded collaborative research. RECOMMENDATION 12. NIDA, CSAT, and other appropriate funding agencies should create research training programs for staff members of community-based treatment programs to strengthen the ability of the treatment programs to include research activities and to adopt the findings of research into their treatment approaches. Training programs should promote research training for clinical staff through fellowships and tuition remission, and incentives for attending professional meetings. To enhance the likelihood that these recommendations are given serious consideration by the agencies to which they are addressed, the assistance of foundations is also needed. Foundations could play an important role by developing grant programs to: Support training in clinical and services research in the addiction disorders. These grants should emphasize skills needed for participating in collaborative research and in the translation and implementation of treatment research into local community settings. Support training for consumers and their families in becoming effective advocates and in the development of advocacy organizations to promote state-of-the-art treatment and treatment research, as well as consumer participation in policy areas such as the development of standards of care.
Representative terms from entire chapter: