Examining the pathways for young people with drug and alcohol dependence: A mixed-method design to examine the role of a treatment programme

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMJ Open, 2016, 6 (5)
Issue Date:
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© BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved. Introduction: Young people with drug and alcohol problems are likely to have poorer health and other psychosocial outcomes than other young people. Residential treatment programmes have been shown to lead to improved health and related outcomes for young people in the short term. There is very little robust research showing longer term outcomes or benefits of such programmes. This paper describes an innovative protocol to examine the longer term outcomes and experiences of young people referred to a residential life management and treatment programme in Australia designed to address alcohol and drug issues in a holistic manner. Methods and analysis: This is a mixed-methods study that will retrospectively and prospectively examine young people's pathways into and out of a residential life management programme. The study involves 3 components: (1) retrospective data linkage of programme data to health and criminal justice administrative data sets, (2) prospective cohort (using existing programme baseline data and a follow-up survey) and (3) qualitative in-depth interviews with a subsample of the prospective cohort. The study will compare findings among young people who are referred and (a) stay 30 days or more in the programme (including those who go on to continuing care and those who do not); (b) start, but stay fewer than 30 days in the programme; (c) are assessed, but do not start the programme. Ethics and dissemination: Ethics approval has been sought from several ethics committees including a university ethics committee, state health departments and an Aboriginal-specific ethics committee. The results of the study will be published in peer-reviewed journals, presented at research conferences, disseminated via a report for the general public and through Facebook communications. The study will inform the field more broadly about the value of different methods in evaluating programmes and examining the pathways and trajectories of vulnerable young people.
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