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Examining Treatment Climate Across Prison-Based Substance Abuse Treatment Groups

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2016
10 pages
This study introduces and examines the concept of the “treatment group,” the level of aggregation between the individual who participates in treatment and the organization that provides it.
With notable exceptions, few studies have critically examined the role and effects of factors other than individual or programmatic differences that contribute to the climate within substance abuse treatment programs. De Leon's work on the therapeutic community, however, indicates that factors beyond the individual and program can contribute to the overall functioning of similarly situated communities. In the current study, the treatment group refers to the social context and dynamics that operate among treatment participants. It examined differences in treatment climate across 12 prison-based treatment groups within a single prison. Using data from 604 participants who were assigned at random to one of the 12 groups, the study analyzed differences on seven treatment climate indicators from 1 month and 6 months into the program across the treatment groups. No differences were found among the treatment groups after 1 month; however, after 6 months, significant differences emerged across the groups on three treatment climate variables: program structure, counselor rapport, and counselor competence. This study is among the first of its kind to conceptualize and examine treatment climate across otherwise similar groups and find that differences emerge on several indicators of climate. The researchers argue that the treatment group may be important to consider in both the delivery and evaluation of substance abuse treatment. (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Published: May 1, 2016