Research Article: Performance measures for substance use disorders – what research is needed?

Date Published: September 11, 2012

Publisher: BioMed Central

Author(s): Deborah W Garnick, Constance M Horgan, Andrea Acevedo, Frank McCorry, Constance Weisner.


In 2010, the Washington Circle convened a meeting, supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), for a multidisciplinary group of experts to focus on the research gaps in performance measures for substance use disorders. This article presents recommendations in three areas: development of new performance measures; methodological and other considerations in using performance measures; and implementation research focused on using performance measures for accountability and quality improvement.

Partial Text

Two decades ago, the Institute of Medicine defined quality as “the degree to which health care services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge” [1]. Today, performance measures, the metrics used to measure the quality of healthcare, play increasingly important roles in all aspects of healthcare.

Research focused on performance measures for substance use disorders is both exciting and challenging because it is conducted in a context that is changing in some ways that we can anticipate and other ways that we cannot easily envision. Performance measurement for substance use disorders will need to adapt to new approaches to treatment, federal regulations on parity for behavioral health care, national health reform, and an atmosphere of heightened interest in quality and performance measures across the health care system. Given the National Quality Strategy [65] and SAMHSA’s response [66], performance measures need to place substance abuse treatment in the context of person-centered care, which implies active roles for individual clients and their families.

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

DWG chaired the committee that planned the meeting, chaired sessions during the meeting and drafted the manuscript. CMH participated in meeting planning, presented background materials, led breakout groups, and drafted the manuscript. AA participated in meeting planning, prepared background materials, compiled notes from the meeting, and participated in drafting the manuscript. FM participated in meeting planning, served as co-chair, led breakout groups and participated in drafting the manuscript. CW participated in meeting planning and in drafting the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.




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