Beyond Drug Use: Other Outcomes in Treatment Evaluation

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Ron Jackson, MSW, director of the Pacific Northwest Node community treatment program Evergreen Treatment Services, recently served on a panel of substance abuse treatment and research experts convened by NIDA to discuss appropriate outcome measures for clinical trials of substance abuse treatments.

Across the addictions field, the primary outcome in treatment research has been reduction in drug consumption. Despite a compelling rationale for moving beyond drug use as the sole standard for evaluating addiction treatment, the field has yet to adopt any core set of other measures that are routinely incorporated into treatment research.

This report from the panel, currently in-press in Addiction, provides an overview of previous recommendations and outlines specific guidelines for consideration of candidate outcomes. A list of outcomes meeting those guidelines is described with two strongly recommended for inclusion: craving and quality of life. The paper ends with ideas on how to move ahead with incorporating these outcomes into treatment research.

Citation: Tiffany ST, Friedman L, Greenfield SF, Hasin DS, Jackson R. Beyond Drug Use: A Systematic Consideration of Other Outcomes in Evaluations of Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Addiction 2011 (in press). doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03581.x

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