Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

A Preliminary Study of the Effects of Patient Feedback in Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

NIDA-Funded Study of Quality Improvement in Substance Abuse Clinics

Principal Investigator:  Paul Crits-Christoph, PhD

This study was a preliminary evaluation of a feedback system to improve treatment retention and outcome for patients in treatment at community substance abuse clinics. Although feedback using the Outcome Questionnaire-45 (OQ-45) has been shown to be effective in randomized clinical trials performed in mental health clinics, there have been no studies to date that have evaluated this feedback system among patients in substance abuse treatment clinics. This study was a multi-site study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, New York University School of Medicine, and Brigham Young University designed to obtain preliminary data on the feasibility and success of using the OQ-45 feedback system plus clinical support tools with patients in substance abuse clinics.

Study Design

A version of the Outcome Questionnaire (OQ-45), adapted to include drug and alcohol use, was administered to patients (N= 304) in 3 substance abuse treatment clinics. Phase I of the study consisted only of administration of the assessment instruments. Phase II consisted of providing feedback reports to counselors based on the adapted OQ-45 at every treatment session up to Session 12. Patients who were not found to not be progressing at an expected rate (i.e., “off track”) were administered a questionnaire that was used as a second feedback report for counselors.


For off-track patients, feedback compared with no feedback led to significant linear reductions in alcohol use throughout treatment, in OQ-45 total scores, and drug use from the point of the second feedback instrument to Session 12. These results suggest that a feedback system adapted to the treatment of substance use problems is a promising approach that should be tested in a larger randomized trial.

The primary outcome article is:

Crits-Christoph, P., Ring-Kurtz, S., Hamilton, J. L., Lambert, M. J., Gallop, R., McClure, B., ... & Rotrosen, J. (2012). A preliminary study of the effects of individual patient-level feedback in outpatient substance abuse treatment programs.Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment,42(3), 301-309.

This study is CLOSED to recruitment.

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