Using state information systems for drug abuse services research

Dennis McCarty, Thomas G. McGuire, Henrick J. Harwood, Timothy Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Political and social demands for effective and cost-effective treatments for drug and alcohol dependence challenge public policy makers and services researchers to assess provider performance, monitor client outcomes, and document effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of care. The information systems built and maintained by the public authorities that fund substance abuse treatment services are an underused source of information on provider performance, client characteristics, treatment completion, readmission rates, treatment outcomes, and costs of care. An overview of performance measurement and state substance abuse databases sets the context for the article. The authors' work with the Maine, Massachusetts, and Ohio substance abuse information systems demonstrates ways services researchers can investigate the organization, use, costs, and cost-effectiveness of publicly funded substance abuse treatment services. Finally, challenges of working with state databases - they are hard to access, must be handled carefully, can be difficult to interpret, and require collaboration with policy makers and treatment providers - are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1090-1106
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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