Home > Organizational attributes and client engagement in community opiate substitute prescribing services.

Kelly, Peter and Hegarty, Josephine and Dyer, Kyle R and O' Donovan, Aine (2024) Organizational attributes and client engagement in community opiate substitute prescribing services. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 31, (1), pp. 116-129. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687637.2022.2135425.

Introduction: Little is known about the relationship between treatment organization characteristics and client outcomes or drug-related harms in community opiate substitution therapy. In the absence of sufficient scientific evidence, the organizational configuration of addiction treatment services is often decided on an ad hoc and sometimes politically motivated basis as the evaluation of the impact of policies or practices on clients at the organizational level is limited. The objective of this multi-site cross-sectional study was to identify and understand how client characteristics and staff perceptions of organizational functioning related to client engagement in community-based opiate substitution therapy services in Ireland.

Methods: This paper reports on a cross-sectional survey of clients (n = 262) and staff (n = 132) questionnaires across 12 discrete community-based prescribing service providers (organizations) in Ireland.

Results: Measures of client engagement in treatment were shown to be higher in organizations with more positive staff ratings of organizational functioning. In particular, in organizations where staff reported having greater job autonomy, clients reported better overall engagement. Specifically, greater staff autonomy in organizations related to greater levels of treatment participation (p = 0.034), treatment satisfaction (p < 0.001), and better rapport with staff (p < 0.001). Clients who were the longest in treatment expressed significantly poorer rapport with staff (p = 0.44) and were less likely to seek out support from peers (p = 0.023), while those in stable accommodation reported greater participation in treatment (p = 0.009). Levels of peer support were not related to organizational characteristics, but clients with lower levels of education (p = 0.002) and those in early treatment (p = 0.017) were more likely to seek support from peers.

Conclusion: The findings establish the importance of assessing organizational and client attributes as part of an overall strategy for enhancing the quality of treatment. This paper provides valuable information for policymakers and provides an ample basis for further exploration of how treatment organizations work, and not just that they work. Policymakers and planners need to consider introducing specific interventions for clients or staff in the context of a ‘whole systems’ approach. From an organizational and planning perspective, this should involve further consideration of measures that relate to increasing staff’s sense of autonomy. This paper provides further evidence that the success of policy-making or planning relating to treatment organizations can be successfully measured at the client and organizational levels.

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