Alcohol and other drug treatment funding, purchasing, and workforce: empirical analyses to inform policy

May 2017

Professor Alison Ritter
Associate Professor Timothy Dobbins
Dr Jennifer Chalmers
Dr Katinka van de Ven

Professor Ann Roche

Other investigators: 
Dr Michael Livingston, La Trobe University
Dr Lynda Berends, Trace Research
Professor Harvey Whiteford, The University of Queensland
Mr Sam Biondo, Victorian Alcohol And other Drug Association (VAADA)
Ms Helene Delany, Alcohol and other Drug Policy, ACT Health
Associate Professor Adrian Dunlop, NSW Ministry of Health
Dr Moira Hewitt, Tobacco Alcohol and Other Drugs Unit. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Ms Rebecca Lang, Queensland Network of Alcohol and Drug Agenceis (QNADA)
Dr Kerstin Stenius, National Institute for Health & Welfare, Finland
Associate Professor Jessica Storbjork, Stockholm University, Sweden
Project description: 

This study will supply a new ongoing research resource, the alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment service system database, providing an empirical foundation to guide decisions about how to fund and purchase AOD treatment services. It will be available for use by other research teams and governments to continually advance knowledge in alcohol and drug treatment service systems and related health systems beyond the life of this project.

Ongoing reforms of alcohol and other drug treatment service systems at the federal and state levels have not been shaped by evidence. To date, no Australian research has examined how treatment funding and purchasing arrangements impact on client treatment outcomes, despite a body of international literature in other areas of health showing that these variables are important determinants of treatment outcomes.

Policy makers at both state and federal levels of government currently operate in a vacuum: there is no Australian-specific research evidence they can bring to bear on decision-making in relation to how to organise and fund AOD treatment. The eight jurisdictions have developed autonomous and independent treatment service systems; the Commonwealth also purchases AOD treatment. This diversity provides fertile ground for a comprehensive and systematic analysis of the structural features of the treatment service system and their impacts.

This study has two aims:

  • Aim 1: To establish a new research infrastructure resource: a database of Australian AOD treatment service system characteristics which includes detailed data on funding, purchasing and organisational characteristics (the AOD treatment service system database).
  • Aim 2: Using multi-level modelling, to test three hypotheses regarding the relationships between service system characteristics and treatment outcomes (as measured by retention and reason for cessation).

For full details please visit the NDARC website.