Youth retention: Factors associated with treatment drop-out from youth alcohol and other drug treatment

Authors


Ria Schroder PhD, Research Fellow, Doug Sellman MB ChB, PhD (Otago), FRANZCP, FAChAM, Professor, Chris Frampton PhD, Associate Professor, Daryle Deering PhD (Otago), RCN, Lecturer. Dr Ria Schroder, National Addiction Centre, University of Otago, Christchurch, PO Box 4345, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. Tel: 0064 3 3640480; Fax: 0064 3 3641225; E-mail: ria.schroder@otago.ac.nz

Abstract

Introduction and Aims. This study examined factors associated with treatment drop-out among young people aged 13–19 years attending alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment. Design and Methods. Data were gathered from structured interviews (n = 79) and a clinical file search of 184 randomly selected young people who had attended youth specific AOD treatment services in Aotearoa, New Zealand during 2003 or 2004. Results. The median length of stay was 2.7 months for those attending day/residential services (n = 42) and 4.0 sessions for those attending outpatient services (n = 37) 16.7% of participants from day/residential services dropped out of treatment early (within the first month) and 32.4% of participants from outpatient treatment services dropped out of treatment early (before the third session). Fixed client characteristics, such as age, sex, ethnicity, substance use and mental health diagnoses were not found to be associated with treatment retention. Dynamic client characteristics, such as motivation to attend treatment and expectations about treatment outcomes and program characteristics, such as positive experiences with treatment staff and feeling involved in the treatment process were found to be associated with treatment retention. Discussion and Conclusions. The findings of this study support previous research indicating that fixed client characteristics are not sufficient to explain youth retention in AOD treatment. Of more use are dynamic client characteristics and program variables. These findings stress the potential for improving treatment retention by creating more youth appropriate services.[Schroder R, Sellman D, Frampton C, Deering D. Youth retention: Factors associated with treatment drop-out from youth alcohol and other drug treatment. Drug Alcohol Rev 2009]

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