Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Adoption of practice guidelines and assessment tools in substance abuse treatment

Traci Rieckmann1*, Bret E Fuller2, Goal Auzeen Saedi3 and Dennis McCarty1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, Mailcode CB669, Portland, OR 97239 USA

2 Portland VA Medical Center, 3710 SW U.S. Veterans Hospital Road, Mailcode P3MHDC, Portland, OR 97239 USA

3 Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, 118 Haggar Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 USA

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Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2010, 5:4  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-5-4

Published: 26 March 2010



The gap between research and practice limits utilization of relevant, progressive and empirically validated strategies in substance abuse treatment.


Participants included substance abuse treatment programs from the Northeastern United States. Structural equation models were constructed with agency level data to explore two outcome variables: adoption of practice guidelines and assessment tools at two points in time; models also included organizational, staffing and service variables.


In 1997, managed care involvement and provision of primary care services had the strongest association with increased use of assessment tools, which, along with provision of counseling services, were associated with a greater use of practice guidelines. In 2001, managed care involvement, counseling services and being a stand-alone drug treatment agency were associated with a greater use of assessment tools, which was in turn related to an increase in the use of practice guidelines.


This study provides managers, clinicians and policy-makers with a framework for understanding factors related to the adoption of new technologies in substance abuse treatment.