Previous research has reported on the benefits of mutual support groups. However, such groups do not routinely collect data on participant outcomes. Moreover, the effect of collecting outcomes measures on these groups is unknown. The objective of this mixed methods study was to elicit participant views on using a novel, purpose built digital platform for routine outcome monitoring (ROM) as a standard component of a mutual support group. SMART Recovery, or the Self-Management and Recovery Training program, is group-based and uses professional clinicians to facilitate discussion and foster mutual support for a range of addictive behaviours, alongside Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing techniques. This paper reports on the qualitative component of this study and how participants perceive ROMs, and the potential shift to technological resources. Twenty semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with participants from SMART Recovery groups across New South Wales, Australia. Participants discussed their use of mutual support within group meetings to manage their recovery, including: naming their goals in front of peers; learning from clinicians and group discussion; and developing reciprocal and caring relationships. They also described any previous experience with routine outcomes measures and how digital technologies might enhance or hinder group function. Participants valued mutual support groups and reported that digital technologies could be complementary to physical, weekly group meetings. They were also concerned that the introduction of technological resources might pose a threat to physical meetings, thereby risking their access to mutual support. Findings have implications for the implementation of ROM when delivered via digital mechanisms, and indicate threats and opportunities that warrant consideration for future initiatives.
Available for download on Friday, October 08, 2021