Publication Details

Harley, M., Pit, S. Winona., Rees, T. & Thomas, S. (2018). Completion rates and psychosocial intervention effectiveness in an Australian substance use therapeutic community. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 13 (33), 1-11.


Background: Program attrition is a major problem in substance use treatment. It is not clear which client and treatment variables are related to successful completion. This study aimed to identify client variables associated with Therapeutic Community (TC) completion. A secondary aim was to investigate changes in entry and exit scores on psychosocial outcome measures. Methods: Retrospective quantitative analysis of data collected from 193 Australian TC residents, over 3.5 years. Variables measured included: demographics; Depression, Anxiety, Stress Score (DASS-21) and World Health Organisation Quality of Life 8 questions (WHOQOL-8). Results: Completion rates were 30.6%. High Money WHOQOL-8 scores, suggestive of minimal financial stressors, positively predicted completion. Multivariate analyses showed that negative predictors of completion were: amphetamine being primary substance of concern, aggression, high Relationship WHOQOL-8 scores, suggestive of positive relationships, and younger or older age. Those in the program demonstrated clinically significant psychological improvement and significant improvement in all quality of life scores over time. The degree of psychometric improvement was most pronounced in those who completed the course, with the exception of depression, stress, and money problems. Conclusion: The findings provide an understanding of specific predictors of program completion which may help to identify high-risk clients and inform program improvement. Early attrition rates may be reduced by monitoring and supporting high-risk clients. Overall, psychometric improvement occurred amongst both completers and noncompleters overtime but is most prominent amongst course completers, with the exception of depression, stress, and money problems. Future research could potentially focus on amphetamine users and shortened TC programs, focusing on acute psychosocial intervention.



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