Information for Study Participants
Purpose of the Research: The National Treatment Center Study is actually a family of related projects in the area of addiction health services research. Each is designed to gather information on the organization, management, staffing, and services of substance abuse treatment programs. The primary focus in each study is on the organizational factors associated with the use of “evidence based practices,” including psychosocial counseling approaches, pharmacotherapies, and wraparound services. Each project has its own unique area of emphasis; some focus on specific types of treatment programs (e.g., programs in the Clinical Trials Network, opioid treatment programs, therapeutic communities) while others focus on the delivery of specific types of treatment services (e.g., smoking cessation services, adolescent programs).
Unit of Analysis: The primary unit of analysis is the treatment program as an organization. Staff (program administrator, clinical director, counselors) provide information on the treatment program, policies, services offered, staff (number and role), client populations served, and current use of a host of evidence-based practices. No data are collected from or about individual patients.
Sample Selection: Generally speaking, treatment programs are sampled at random from the population of all treatment providers in the United States, as maintained by SAMHSA. The sample design aims to include representation from the full spectrum of specialty addiction treatment services – hospital-based and freestanding; inpatient, outpatient, residential, and mixed modalities; urban, suburban, and rural areas; very large and very small programs. Eligibility criteria vary from project to project, with each focusing on a different segment of the treatment system. (Certain programs are not eligible for inclusion in these studies; these include detox-only facilities; halfway houses; DUI programs; counselors/physicians in private practice; corrections-based facilities; and VA-operated programs.)
What’s Involved in the Research?
On-site Data Collection: One of the unique features of the NTCS projects is that we send a trained field interviewer to each treatment program to conduct face-to-face interviews with the program administrator and clinical director. The interview includes an administrative section and a clinical section. The entire interview is expected to take approximately 2 hours. Total interview time may vary depending upon the complexity and comprehensiveness of the treatment program. Whenever possible, we prefer to meet separately with an administrator and the clinical director. A modest incentive is paid to each program that completes the on-site interviews. (Depending on the project, this incentive can range from $100 to $150 per program.)
Counselor Questionnaires: During the on-site visits, program administrators are asked to provide our field interviewer with a complete list of the substance abuse counselors employed by their program. This list is shared only with NTCS project staff responsible for distributing questionnaires. All listed counselors are mailed a questionnaire at the treatment program’s address, for completion at their convenience. These questionnaires do not collect data of a personally sensitive nature, and no data on clients are collected. Counselors are asked about the work culture of their employing organization and their own knowledge of and willingness to use various evidence-based practices. Response time is estimated at 30 minutes, and it is expected that counselors will complete the survey on their own time. An incentive payment is offered to each counselor completing and returning a questionnaire. (Depending on the project, this incentive can range from $25 to $50.) Counselor identifying information is used only to process payment for completed questionnaires; data files do not contain the names of responding counselors, and the staff list is not used for any other purpose. Individually-identifiable counselor data are not shared with the treatment program; reports containing aggregate data for the full sample will be made available to all participating facilities.
Telephone Follow-ups. Most of the NTCS projects have a longitudinal component -- that is, they are concerned with changes in programs over time. To assess important changes in the availability of treatment services over time, brief follow-up interviews are conducted via telephone at 6-month intervals (at 6, 12, and 18 months after the onsite survey) with the program administrator or his/her designee. The calls are brief (10 minutes) and ask about specific changes the program has undergone since the last point of contact, including the addition of new and innovative methods of providing treatment, or the adoption of an older, previously unused treatment method. Programs adopting these innovations will then be asked a series of questions designed to discover the factors leading to the adoption of these changes.
Confidentiality and Data Management
Participation in any component of the NTCS is completely voluntary. We will make every effort to minimize the time required to complete the interviews. However, the rich detail collected from participating treatment programs is a unique strength of this study, and allows for a wide range of analyses.
Participation in the face-to-face interview does not commit the program, the administrator, or the staff to participate in any subsequent data collection. While we very much appreciate the continued participation of programs and staff in our research, participants retain the right to opt out of further contact at any time, and we respect those requests.
Our studies do not collect information from individual patients or from patient records. Interviews are conducted only with program managers (as described above), and counselors via mailed or online questionnaires. No personally sensitive information is collected from or about program staff, and all records are de-identified prior to analysis. Individually-identifiable data are never shared outside of the project office.
All research projects are reviewed and approved by the University of Georgia's Institutional Review Board, and proof of approval is available upon request from the investigators. All project staff -- from research faculty to data entry personnel -- have completed University-approved training in the protection of confidentiality of data obtained from human subjects in scientific research.
Study participants always have access to summary reports developed using the study’s data, as well as to copies of publications and presentations in which the data are used. A current list of all products is maintained on this website.