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Using FoRSE to Measure the Effectiveness of SUD Treatment

In this interview, Dr. Peters talks about the Foundation for Recovery Science and Education (FoRSE) Program, and how it’s equipping treatment providers with data to empower the design, modification, and delivery of clinical services. Even though the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) has been around since 1978, the substance-use profession has encountered numerous barriers when attempting to standardize addiction treatment. 

Over the last few decades, establishing evidence around treatment outcomes has become increasingly popular across the entire mental health profession. Dr. Peters says that providers’ desire to “want to measure how they are doing” led the NAATP to develop FoRSE to support providers who don’t have available comparative data to evaluate the strength of the services that they offer to clients.

According to Dr. Peters, there is a wealth of research on what interventions are effective for specific populations, but outcomes related to different levels of care—such as outpatient and inpatient treatment—are not as well understood. Furthermore, most of the research that’s available comes from publicly-funded treatment efforts, not privately funded rehab programs.

FoRSE is also an inclusive program that considers various treatment models, including manualized approaches, outpatient medication management, self-help, fitness-based models, in-patient rehab, telehealth, and others. Dr. Peters says that FoRSE wants to look at different programmatic elements and conclude what an episode of each type of service looks like—both during care and after clients finish treatment—so that providers can tell whether a client is actually getting better.

So far, FoRSE has recruited 50 providers for their research assessment. In addition to substance-use providers, FoRSE is also working with electronic medical record companies, private family foundations, and larger addiction treatment center donors who are eager to see more research emerge on the topic. FoRSE does not currently follow clients across treatment centers, though they work closely with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and other organizations that do.

Providers can participate in FoRSE’s research project for free. In the video, Dr. Peters explains how providers simply need to send brief client information, the length of the client’s stay, and a few self-reported outcome measures. In return, FoRSE provides a general summary report and a site-specific assessment for each participating provider. Although the general summary will be made public, client information is de-identified and protected. At the end of the day, providers who elect to submit their information to FoRSE can expect data-driven feedback that could improve needed client services.

Annie Peters, Ph.D., LP, is Director of Research and Education at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), leading the national effort to further understand substance use disorders through collaborative quality improvement and research. Dr. Peters is a clinical psychologist who completed her doctorate at the University of Colorado - Boulder. She has been working in the addiction treatment field since 2006 with experience in assessment, psychotherapy, process improvement, compliance, counselor education, and clinical leadership. You can learn more here.

By: Michael Tugendhat