Direct Care Workers in the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network: Characteristics, Opinions, and Beliefs

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Abstract

Objective

Individuals with direct care responsibilities in 348 drug abuse treatment units were surveyed to obtain a description of the workforce and to assess support for evidence-based therapies.

Methods

Surveys were distributed to 112 programs participating in the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN). Descriptive analyses characterized the workforce. Analyses of covariance tested the effects of job category on opinions about evidence-based practices and controlled for the effects of education, modality (outpatient or residential), race, and gender.

Results

Women made up two-thirds of the CTN workforce. One-third of the workforce had a master's or doctoral degree. Responses from 1,757 counselors, 908 support staff, 522 managers-supervisors, and 511 medical staff (71% of eligible participants) suggested that the variables that most were most consistently associated with responses were job category (19 of 22 items) and education (20 of 22 items). Managers-supervisors were the most supportive of evidence-based therapies, and support staff were the least supportive. Generally, individuals with graduate degrees had more positive opinions about evidence-based therapies. Support for using medications and contingency management was modest across job categories.

Conclusions

The relatively traditional beliefs of support staff could inhibit the introduction of evidence-based practices. Programs initiating changes in therapeutic approaches may benefit from including all employees in change efforts. (Psychiatric Services 58:181–190, 2007)

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