Performance Improvement 2004. Evaluation of Opioid Treatment Program Accreditation Project


The goal of the evaluation was to obtain information to guide the full national implementation of a new treatment approach through systematic study of the processes, barriers, costs associated with a change from regulatory to a mixed accreditation-regulatory process, and various other impacts. Between 1996 and 2001, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other Federal agencies developed a new regulatory framework for monitoring opioid treatment programs (OTPs), which provide opioid treatment for addiction employing such drugs as methadone and levo-alpha-acetyl-methadol. Between 1998 and 2002, SAMHSA conducted and evaluated a phase-in program to obtain information to aid in the full implementation of the new system. Baseline data collection visits were completed to 152 OTPs; of the 144 OTPs that completed follow-up site visits, 104 underwent the accreditation process as experimental sites and 40 were control sites. In the experimental sample, 86% achieved accreditation in initial accreditation surveys. Overall, study participants generally offered positive appraisals of accreditation, with 74% of site directors and staff agreeing that they would rather work in an accredited OTP. Fewer than half (43%) of OTPs in the study said they found the process of accreditation to be burdensome. Average total site costs of preparing for and undergoing accreditation were $48,005 per OTP: site preparation costs accounted for 82% of the total; technical assistance costs (paid by SAMHSA for study participants) accounted for 7% of the total; and accreditation survey fees (also borne by SAMHSA) accounted for 11% of the total. Findings indicated no diminution in treatment capacity in participating OTPs. Sites that underwent accreditation offered significantly more comprehensive services than did sites that did not. Despite the study’s limitations, findings from this study were consistent with the Federal government’s decision to move to the new accreditation-based regulatory model.

PIC ID: 6739
Agency Sponsor: SAMHSA-CSAT, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
Federal Contact: Lubran, Robert, 240-276-2714
Performer: Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC

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